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Author and Editor 

Nan est propheta sine honore 
nisi in patria sua. 

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Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. 







This Lower Tidewater area of Virginia is closely knit together by the 
common harbor of its component communities, Hampton Roads. It is, both 
from the cultural and economic points of view, one of the most interesting 
parts of Virginia, and in those regards second to few areas of the English- 
speaking territories of the North American continent. 

Here were made some of the first explorations outside the English settle- 
ment at Roanoke Island in 1585. Here the Colonists sent out by the London 
Company made their first landings in 1607, before arriving at Jamestown. 
Here the Anglican communion and the English common law gained their 
earliest footholds, second only to Jamestown, and here one of the four great 
corporations was laid out in 1619 and three of the eight original counties 
were established in 1634. Here are preserved the third oldest continuous 
county records in Virginia dating from 1637; here are located the two oldest 
existing municipalities, established by law in 1680, one of which was to be- 
come the second of the only two chartered in Virginia before the American 
Revolution. Here is located, also, the oldest continuous settlement in British 
America, dating from 1610. 

This area contained some of the oldest grammar schools and private 
libraries in Virginia, dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 
Its public and parochial school systems are unsurpassed, and it has two col- 
legiate institutions of higher learning and the State's oldest normal school for 
the education of Negroes and Indians. 

The port of Hampton Roads, served by first-class highways, bridges, ferries, 
tunnels, and many rail, steamship, bus and air lines, is the best on the Atlantic 
coast. Here is the world's greatest harbor, the world's largest coal-dumping 
port, the world's greatest peanut market. Here is some of the most beautiful 
dairy and truck farm land in Virginia. Here is the home of the famous 
Smithfield ham, Lynnhaven oyster, Hampton crab and Ocean View spot. 
Here are many other commercial and industrial enterprises: ship-building, 
fertilizer, seafood, lumber, pulp, paper, just to mention a few. Here are the 
oldest Naval Shipyard and Naval Hospital, the largest Naval Base in our 
country, the headquarters of all its Ground Forces, and one of its most im- 
portant Air Force Bases. Here are also some of the most famous vacation 
and resort areas on the Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake Bay shore. 

This is the first attempt to bring together in one work the many facets 
of the life, past and present, of the diversified communities of this area, 
which certainly should — but unfortunately do not always — work in unison 
for their common advancement. If the present effort can succeed in a small 
way in promoting internal goodwill, as well as putting an important economic 



area in proper focus in the eyes of the outside world, it will not be deemed 
in vain. 

It was partially — though not entirely — a coincidence that the preparation 
of the present volumes occurred at almost the same time as the celebration of 
the 350th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English settle- 
ment in the western hemisphere. That year of grace, 1957, marked other 
significant memories as well. It was the fiftieth anniversary of the Tercenten- 
nial Exposition of the Jamestown settlement and the fortieth anniversary of 
the establishment, on the very site of that Exposition, of the great United States 
Naval Base on Hampton Roads. At the same time, we should not lose sight 
of that earlier English settlement in Virginia, and that little girl — the first 
English child born on this side of the world three hundred and seventy years 
ago — ^who was christened Virginia Dare after the name of the land where she 
was born; and we should be thankful that our good neighbors to the south, 
the people of the Sovereign State of North Carolina, have now inherited that 
hallowed ground and so zealously keep its memories green. 

When I was first approached four years ago with the idea of publishing 
a history of this area, it was suggested to me that I should perform the dual 
function of both author and editor, writing certain sections myself and ob- 
taining the collaboration of other local historians in the preparation of other 
parts. The difficulty of readily obtaining such assistance, coupled with my 
own interest in the project, made me decide to attempt the whole work 
without assistance. This was a mistake. It soon became apparent that the 
full-time duties of my profession — with its class preparation, examinations, 
committee meetings, administrative duties, and summer school — left inade- 
quate spare time for writing history, and that the completion of the manu- 
script could drag on indefinitely if assistance were not made available. Thus 
the publishers decided, with my hearty concurrence, to obtain the assistance 
which I had originally hoped to do without, and we enlisted the services of 
three able and experienced writers to give the required boost to our time 
schedule. Fourteen chapters, comprising well over half of the total volume 
of this work, were written by me from research done by me over a period 
of many years, and for them I stand personally responsible. The other chap- 
ters, under their authors' "by-lines," have been carefully reviewed and edited 
by me so as to conform to the general plan of the work, but the responsibility 
for facts and interpretation is that of the individual authors. I wish to pause 
at this point and express my gratitude for their efforts in behalf of this project. 
Dr. Marvin Schlegel of Hampden-Sidney is an able teacher, writer and 
historian, and an old friend of long standing — a former colleague back in the 
days of William and Mary's St. Helena Extension. Mrs. Katherine Fontaine 
Syer of Princess Anne has long had a keen interest in the present and past 
lore of the area in which she lives. Mr. Floyd McKnight, author and historical 


writer of New York, took on a difficult task and, in my opinion, performed 
it in a most creditable manner. I am especially grateful to Dr. Winfield Scott 
Downs of the Lewis Historical Publishing Company; he has been my contact 
with the publisher and his never-failing helpfulness and his boundless patience 
with my chirography and other idiosyncrasies have smoothed the way on 
many occasions. 

We have given credit, insofar as possible, in the form of footnotes to all 
sources used. There is much, however, which cannot be acknowledged in that 
way. We, therefore, wish to thank the many Secretaries of Chambers and 
Associations of Commerce, the municipal and county officials, the librarians 
and newspaper editors, all of whom have freely and generously made available 
the material in their custody. I wish personally to thank Mr. Marshall W. Butt 
of Portsmouth, Virginia, for offering valuable suggestions. I am greatly in- 
debted at this point to the late George Carrington Mason, historiographer 
of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, and especially to the late 
Rev. Dr. W. H. T. Squires, Presbyterian minister and Virginia historian; the 
free exchange of ideas with these two authorities on local history in years 
gone by — though we were not always in agreement — has made possible the 
solution of many problems of interpretation. And, last but far from least, 
my thanks go to the members of the Advisory Committee, who have extended 
their time and energies when called upon. 

The greatest debt of all — one which I can scarcely put into words, much 
less repay — I owe to my wife, Virgilia Nash Whichard. There have been 
times during the past few years when I know she must have felt as if she 
were living alone, times when "The History" had to be put ahead of other 
inclinations and considerations. And through it all she has been ever ready 
with loving sympathy, understanding and forbearance which have been a 
source of constant inspiration and encouragement. 

Whatever the merits — or faults — of this history, there is one thing which 
I shall take credit for, and that is the coining of the term "Lower Tidewater." 
The meaning of the phrase and reasons for its use are sufficiently explained 
in the opening paragraphs of Chapter L It was first used in the material 
which I prepared during the summer of 1955 for the publisher's brochure, 
which was printed and distributed in September of that year. I feel impelled 
to mention this circumstance, because of the fact that various local sources 
have since then employed the term as if it were in every day usage, whereas 
it never appeared — to my knowledge — before the time above mentioned. 
But enough of introductory remarks, and vest: la giuhbal 


Norfolk, Virginia 
26 May 1959. 


Charles Emette Adams, III 

John S. Alfriend 

Robert F. Baldwin, Jr. 

Marshall W. Butt 

WiLLLAM R. C. Cocke, Esq. 

Ralph B. Douglass 

Irving L. Fuller 

Mills E. Godwin, Jr. 

Howard W. Gwaltney 

John Davis Hatch, Jr. 

Louisa Venable Kyle 

Ralph K. T. Larson 

Harry O. Nichols 

John Crump Parker 

Waverly Randolph Payne, iVI.D., F.A.C.S. 

Samuel H. Plummer 

Abner S. Pope 

Donald Woods Shriver 

C. Vernon Spratley 

Lewis W. Webb, Jr. 

Richard L. Woodward, Jr. 

LuciEN H. von Schilling 





Chapter Page 

I Geographical i 

II Aboriginal 13 

III Historical 45 


The Corporation and County of Elizabeth City 

IV The Corporation and County of Elizabeth City, 1619-1634 77 
V The Shire or County of Elizabeth City, 1634-1700 . .111 
VI Elizabeth City County and the Town of Hampton, 

'700-1814 135 

VII The Town and City of Hampton and Elizabeth City County, 

1814-1957. 171 

VIII Fort Monroe and Langley Field, 1609-1957 191 


The Upper and Lower Comities of New Norfolk 

IX The County of New Norfolk, 1636 219 

X The Lower County OF New Norfolk, 1 637- 1 69 1 . . -233 

XI The County of Norfolk, 169 1-1957 285 

XII Norfolk Town, 1 680- 1 736 325 

XIII The Borough of Norfolk, 1 736-1 775 371 

XIV The Borough OF Norfolk, 1775-1845 415 

XV The City of Norfolk, 1845-1900 459 

XVI The City OF Norfolk, 1900-1957 489 













The Town of Portsmouth, 1752-1858 i 

The City of Portsmouth, i 858-1957 17 

The Town and City of South Norfolk, 1919-195 7 . . 47 

The County of Princess Anne, 169 1-1957 53 

The Town AND City of Virginia Beach, 1880-1957. . -113 

The Upper County of Norfolk or Nansemond County, 

1634-1957 '33 

The Town AND City of Suffolk, 1742-1957 157 

The Great Dismal Swamp 181 


The Comities of Waruick River mid Warrosqiiyoake 

XXV War\\tck River Shire, 1634-1957. ...... 193 

XXVI The City OF Newport News, 1 896- 1 95 7 211 

XXVII Warrosquyoake Shire or Isle of Wight County, 1634-1957. 249 

XXVIII The Town of Smithfield, 1752-1957 267 

XXIX The County OF Southampton, 1749-1957. .... 285 

XXX Search for the Chesapeake: The Roanoke Island Colonies, 

1584-1587. 305 

XXXI The Refounding of Virginia: Jamestown, 1607-1634. . . 331 
XXXII The Jamestown Exposition and Festival and the Norfolk 

Naval Base, 1907-1917-1957 357 

Bibliography 357 

Index 381 



Title Page 

Waterfront and Tunnel Bridge, Norfolk Frontispiece 

Lower Tidewater Virginia Before 1700 (Map) 5 

Derby's Engraving of the White Map (1590) Chesapeake Bay to 

Neuse River 16 

Mantle Given by Powhatan to Captain Christopher Newport in 1608 . 30 

Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads, 1841 (jVLap) 52 

Cape Henry - First Landing, 26 April 1607 61 

Communion Silver (1619), Now in Possession of St. John's Church, 

Hampton 92 

St. John's Episcopal Church, Hampton 141 

Buckroe Beach, Hampton 182 

Unloading Oysters at Plant OF J. S. Darling & Son, Hampton .... 184 

View of Fort Monroe, Old Point Comfort 192 

Fort Monroe Casemate Museum, Old Point Comfort 211 

Air View of Langley Air Force Base 212 

F-84F Thunderstreak Jets on the Flight Line at Langley Air Force Base 2 14 
NACA Transsonic Wind Tunnel, Langley Aeronautical Labor.\tory, 

Langley Air Force Base 215 

Thomas Howard, Earl OF Arundel, Painting BY Rubens 220 

Autograph of William Porten, County Clerk (1673), Lower 

Norfolk County 238 

Adam Thorowgood House, Built Before 1660, Lower Norfolk County 265 
Wishard House (c. 1660) now Property' of W. W. Oliver, Lower 

Norfolk County 271 

Part of Princess Anne County, Kempsville to Moore's Bridges 

(Map-c. 1781) 272 

PartofPrincess Anne County, Cape Henry TO Little Creek (Map-c. 1781) 274 
"Dudlies," Keeling House, Lower Norfolk County, c. 1690, Present 

Residence of Rear Admiral and Mrs. Leon J. Manees 277 

Norfolk County Court House, Portsmouth (1846) 290 

Part of Norfolk County, Norfolk and Portsmouth to Great Bridge 

(Map-c. 1781) 303 

Part of Norfolk County, Map Made for Brigadier General Viele c. 1863 310 

Plan of Norfolk Town, 1680-1736 327 

Communion Service, Elizabeth River Parish, Norfolk, 1700- 1764 . . 348 



Title Page 

Boush's Lots, Norfolk, 1728-1732 (Map) 353 

Dr. Thomas Tabor's List of Items for Mr. Matthew Godfrey (c. 1697) 358 
Writ of Capias, January 28, 1726/27, Signed by Solomon Wilson, Clerk 

of the Norfolk County Court 360 

Benjamin Franklin's Diploma, id April 1756, Norfolk 382 

Elizabeth River Parish Church, Erected 1739, Now St. Paul's Episcopal 

Church, Norfolk 384 

Plan of the Borough Church, the Fourth Elizabeth River Parish 

Church, erected 1736-1739 387 

Gordon or Milhada House (1768) now Dismantled, Norfolk . . . 410 

Myers House (1791), Norfolk 432 

520 East Bute Street, now Dismantled, Norfolk 435 

Old City Hall and Court House, Erected i 847-1 850, Norfolk . . . 461 
Flag of Seaboard Rifles, Co. F, 6th Va. Rgt., A4ahone's Brigade, Army 

OF Northern Virginia 470 

Original Home (1876), Bank of Commerce now Part of the National 

Bank of Commerce, AT 236 E. Main Street, Norfolk 472 

Marine Bank Building (1896), now part of the National Bank of 

Commerce, Norfolk 474 

Norfolk Light Artillery Blues in the Gay Nineties 478 

View in 1 888 of Norfolk and Western Railroad Car Houses, Norfolk 480 

Portion of Market Square (now Commercial Place) in 1888, Norfolk 482 

Norfolk Fire Department Headquarters (Still in Use) in 1888 . . . 483 

Granby Street about 1878, Old Atlantic Hotel on Left, Norfolk . . 484 

Downtown Granby Street, South from Freemason Street, Norfolk . 490 

City Hall Avenue, Norfolk, in 1910 492 

Entrance to Municipal Gardens, Norfolk, Site of Annual Azalea 

Festival 495 

Granby Street South from Tazewell Street, Norfolk, in 1902 . . . 497 

U. S. Public Health Service Hospital, Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk . 499 

The Hague, Ghent Bridge and Mowbray Arch, Norfolk 503 

Foreman Field, College of William and Mary in Norfolk 506 

Norfolk Museum 507 

Municipal Airport Administration Building, Norfolk 509 

Aerial View of Colonna's Shipyard, Inc., Norfolk 511 

Central Building, Norfolk Public Library 512 

Norfolk Yacht and Country Club 513 


TiTLK Page 

Air \'if,w, Portsmouth Frontispiece 

The Navy's Oldest Hospital, Built in 1827, Photographed in 1875, 

Portsmouth 8 

Crawford House, Portsmouth's First Hotel, Erected IN 1835 .... 9 
Portsmouth Parish Church (1762), now Trinity' Episcopal Church, 

Portsmouth 12 

The Ocean House, Portsmouth's Leading Hotel for Many Years, 

Built in 1856 14 

DestkuctionofthePortsmouthNavy Yard, April 21, 1861, by U.S. Forces 18 

Ruins of Portsmouth Navy Yard, 1865 20 

View of the Seaboard Market and Armory, Built in 1893 and Burned 

IN 1936, Portsmouth 22 

Court Street Corner of High, Portsmouth, in i 895, Showing Old Post 

Office, Old Townhall. and Presbyterian Church 22 

High Street West from Crawford, Portsmouth, IN December 1872 . . 24 

Trophy Park, U. S. Naval Shipyard 26 

Plant of Dixie Veneer Company 31 

The Norfolk and Portsmouth Ferries, 1895 33 

High Street Looking East to the Ferries, Portsmouth 35 

U. S. Naval Hospital Ci.metery, Portsmouth 37 

New Public Libr.^ry, South Norfolk 48 

Oscar Frommel Smith High School, South Norfolk 49 

Plant of Lone Star Cement Corporation, South Norfolk 51 

Cape Henry Lighthouse, Princess Anne County, The First Erected 

by the U. S. Government (1791) 82 

The Old Princess Anne Hotel, Virginia Beach, in 1888: Burned in 1907 1 14 

Aerial View, Atlantic Avenue AND Boardwalk, Virginia Beach . . . 127 

Cavalier Yacht and Cou.NTRY Club, Virginia Beach 130 

Old Glebe Church, Nansemond County 139 

Early Day Street Scene, Suffolk 172 

Aerial View, Suffolk 173 

Louise Obici Memorial Hospital, Suffolk 175 

Warwick Public Library 202 

"SS Neversail," Port Eustis, Army Landship Used to Train Port 

Personnel 204 

James River Golf Museu.m, James River Country Club, Warwick . . 205 


Title Page 

Court House AND Public Safety BuiLDiNci, Newport News 216 

Saturday Traffic on Washington Avenue, North from 28TH Street, 

Newport News 219 

View OF Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 225 

New Esso Bunker Oil Station, C. & O. Piers, Newport News . . . 228 

The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Interior AND Exterior . . . 230 
War Memorial Museum of Virginia, Newport News, Interior 

AND Exterior 232 

Coal Pier OF THE C. & O. Railway, Newport News 235 

Victory Arch, Newport News, Dedicated April 13, 1919 237 

Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Waterfront Facilities, Newport News 242 
"S.S. United States," Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and 

Dry Dock Co 243 

Super - Carrier "Forrestal," Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding 

and Dry Dock Co 245 

Old Brick Church (1632-1682?), Isle of Wight 252 

Historic Isle of Wight Court House 253 

James River Bridge Connecting Warwick with Isle of Wight .... 264 
Modern Meat Packing Plant in Smithfield, Home of the Smithfield 

Hams 270 

Smithfield Court House Built in 1749 272 

Plant No. 2, P. D. Gwaltney, Jr. & Co., Inc., Smithfield 275 

Smithfield Residential Scene 281 

High School, Franklin 296 

jMain Street, Franklin 298 

Aerial V^iew, Paper Operations, Camp Division, Union Bag - Camp 

Paper Corporation, Franklin 302 

The Powhatan Oak, Jamestown Exposition (1907) 365 

Naval Station Bell and Headquarters of the Fifth Naval District, 

U. S. Naval Base 366 



Chapter I 

IET IT BE SAID at the outset that, in any study of a restricted local area, 
it is frequently difficult to confine one's self to the limits one has set, and 
^ the temptation is great to consider not only the area itself, but also the 
history of the state, of which it is an integral part, and of the nation as a 
whole. It is the plan of the present study to consider only local events, circum- 
stances and conditions, and to mention state and national history only insofar 
as it bears directly upon the history of Lower Tidewater Virginia. 

It might not be out of place at this point to explain what we mean by the 
term "lower tidewater." The tidewater region of any locality is that part whose 
water courses are affected by the tides; this means, of course, the coastal plain, 
the area between the coast and the fall line. Just as the term "Lowcountry" 
has come to mean only the coastal region of South Carolina, and the term 
"Outer Banks" means only North Carolina, so "Tidewater" applies almost 
exclusively to Virginia. We of the Hampton Roads area refer glibly to our 
section as "Tidewater Virginia," which is not strictly speaking correct. The 
other extreme occurred not many years ago, when there appeared a beauti- 
fully illustrated little volume titled simply In Tideivater Virginia,'^ which actu- 
ally was the story in pictures of the lovely old homes on the Rappahannock 
River. All that part of Virginia between the coast and the fall line — which, 
for example, occurs at Richmond on the James and at Fredericksburg on the 
Rappahannock — can rightfully be called "Tidewater Virginia." Hence, our 
title The History of Lower Tidewater Virginia clearly indicates that we are 
limiting ourselves to the Hampton Roads area and the mouth of Chesapeake 
Bay in the southeast corner of the state. 

The area which specifically forms the basis of the present study comprises 
the Counties of Elizabeth City, "Warwick, Isle of "Wight, Nansemond, Norfolk, 
Princess Anne and Southampton, and the cities which were formed from terri- 
tory originally part of these counties. For, in Virginia, cities are independent 
of the counties from which they are formed,^ and as a matter of fact two of 
the above counties have ceased to exist, having become part of municipal 
corporations by annexation and consolidation. "When the first eight shires — 

Va. 1 


or counties, as they soon came to be called — were established by the General 
Assembly in 1634,* this area was represented by only three counties: Elizabeth 
City, Warwick River and Warrosquyoack (Isle of Wight) ; the others men- 
tioned above came into existence through subsequent subdivisions. We might 
even say that, with one exception, this area represents one of the four original 
territorial divisions of Virginia in 1619, the Borough of Kecoughtan, the 
name of which was changed to the Corporation of Elizabeth City in 1620.* 
The exception above noted was the original County of Warrosquyoacke, which 
most authorities assign as a part of the Corporation of James City. All these 
are matters which will be thoroughly discussed and documented in the appro- 
priate place. 

That part of Virginia east of Chesapeake Bay, the Eastern Shore, an 
important historical and economic area, has not been included here simply 
because it was considered in another recent study from the press of the present 
publishers.'* Likewise we have excluded the Counties of James City and York, 
which contain the important Jamestown-Williamsburg-Yorktown Colonial 
National Monument. That section is, of course, of prime importance in state, 
national and world history, and certainly should be — if it is not already — the 
subject of a separate study. 

This mid-section of our Atlantic coast, just halfway between Maine and 
Florida, has had a geographical identity for over four centuries. It is true that 
one of the first maps, the so-called "Admiral's Map" of 1513** (just twenty- 
one years after Columbus), while depicting the West Indies with a fair 
amount of accuracy, was very vague as to the Atlantic coast above Florida, 
and what place-names it shows are not identifiable with any names now or 
formerly in use. However, the Diego de Rivero map of 1529" gives a name 
to the area in which we are interested, and shows various natural features of 
the coast which can be identified with places known to us today. Thus, this 
whole part of coast was called Tierra de Ayll6>i. "Ayllon's Land' 'after an early 
colonizer of whom more will be said later ;^ also seen on the Rivero map are 
Cabo de Arenas (Cape of Sands) which suggests Sandy Hook, Bahia de Santa 
Maria (St. Mary's Bay) identified by some with Chesapeake Bay as will later 
appear,* R'lo del Principe (Prince's River) also to be mentioned later,* Cabo 
de San Roman (Cape Romain, South Carolina), and Cabo de Santa Elena 
(Cape Saint Helena) suggesting Saint Helena Sound, also in South Carolina. 
Some of these names and others are mentioned by Gomara, a historian writing 
in the mid-sixteenth century:" Punta de Bacallaos (Cod Point) for Cape Cod, 
Rio Fondo (Deep River) suggesting the Bay of Fundy, Cabo de Santa Maria, 
Cabo de Arenas, Puerto del Principe, and Cabo de Santa Elena. Unfortu- 
nately, neither the Rivero map of 1529 nor the Gomara description of 1552 
is sufficiently clear and accurate to permit exact identification of any of these 


We are on firmer ground, however, when we come to the map of Ralph 
Lane's explorations from Roanoke in 1585-6. This map, which exists in sev- 
eral versions, was done by the engraver, Theodore de Bry, appearing first in 
1588 and 1590."' It takes in the coastal area from the Chesapeake to the 
Neuse River. Here is seen for the first time the name Chesepiooc Sinus 
(Chesapeake Bay) , and the land between the Bay and the Albemarle Sound, 
which includes Lower Tidewater, was called by the Indian name of Weape- 
meoc. No details are shown on this map of the land on the Peninsula north 
of Hampton Roads, since Lane's explorations did not extend that far. 

The manuscript map made by the gunner, Tindall, in June of 1608," the 
first detailed map of the land and water courses from the Capes up the river 
above Jamestown, shows the location of "Cape Henneri," Point Comfort, and 
Chechotanke (Kecoughtan). However, it is not accurate with the Indian settle- 
ments south of Hampton Roads, and Nassamonge (Nansemond) and Oris- 
keyek (Warrosquyoacke), both of which were placed too far to the east. The 
map which Captain John Smith made, based on his explorations of about the 
same time, is one of the most important maps of Virginia and Maryland, and 
was reproduced and published in many versions (1612, 1613, 1619, 1624, 
1625, etc.)^" The 1624 version appeared in Smith's Geiierall Histor/e of Vir- 
ginia, which also contained another map of particular mterest. The latter was 
based on and covered the same territory as that of Lane's travels of 1585-6, 
and was liberally sprinkled with English place-names which have not survived 
nor did they ever actually come into general use. The most interesting part 
of this 1624 map, however, is its title "Ould Virginia," indicative of the 
custom which grew up, after the Jamestown settlement, of distinguishing 
between the area from Hampton Roads south and that to the north. Most 
of what we have designated as Lower Tidewater was in Old Virginia.^* 

In 1646, there was published in Florence a map titled Virginia Vecchia & 
Nuova (Virginia Old and New),^* which has three unusual features. The 
land between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays was designated "Virginia 
Orientale," while that to the west and south of the Chesapeake was "Virginia 
Occidentale." The ocean was called "Mare di Virginia." The well-known 
Farrer map, OuU Virginia & New. published in 165 1,^'^ also has some remark- 
able features; the most unusual of these are the appearance of the term 
"Rawliana" for the territory south of the Chesapeake, and the designation 
"Carolana" at the upper reaches of the Roanoke, Chowan and Meherrin rivers. 

There are many other early and interesting maps of Virginia which show 
Lower Tidewater, but we shall mention only one more, that of Virginia and 
Maryland by Augustine Herman published in 1673.^" In it were shown these 
counties and other localities in our area of interest: Lower Norfolk, Cape 
Henry, "Willoughby's Point, Seawell's Point, Lynnhaven River, Elizabeth River, 
Tanner's Creek), Nansemond (Nansemond River and its branches). Isle of 


Wight (Pagan Creek), Elizabeth City (Hampton River), and Warwick (War- 
wick River) . This was, of course, before the formation of Princess Anne and 
Southampton Counties. 

It may be interesting and informative at this point to note the words of 
Robert Beverley, the Virginia historian who wrote about 1703. He said that 
Virginia was the name originally given to all the northern part of the conti- 
nent of America, and as grants were made to other colonies, their names 
served only to distinguish them as so many parts of Virginia until the colonies 
became more familiar to Englishmen at home. In the course of time, continued 
Beverley, the name came to apply only to the land on the Chesapeake, both 
Virginia and Maryland. In the most restricted sense, the name Virginia was 
applied in Beverley's time to the territory bounded on the south by North 
Carolina, on the north by the Potomac River, which divided it from Mary- 
land, on the east by the Main Ocean or Virginia Sea, and on the west and 
northwest by the California Sea!!!'^ 

Geologically, the easternmost part of our state is a part of the Great 
Coastal Plain, which stretches from New York to the Rio Grande, and which 
here covers approximately 11,000 square miles known as "Tidewater Vir- 
gmia,"" as we have already noted. The Lower Tidewater area covers about 
one-fifth of the above, and is here shown in its component parts compared 
with an early eighteenth century census: 

County Present Area^s 1703 Area^u 

(in square miles) 

Elizabeth City 54 45 

Norfolk 415 175 

Princess Anne 279 154 

Nansemond 423 205 

Warwick 69 60 

Isle of Wight 314 223 

Southampton 604 — 

Totals 2158 862 

The above totals include, of course, the areas of the cities which have been 
formed from these counties. It should also be noted that two counties — 
Elizabeth City and Warwick — have ceased to exist,-' and that Southampton 
was not formed until 1749." Hence, it can be concluded that only about 40^ 
of the area had been settled by 1703. 

The coastal plain represents two different levels in its geological develop- 
ment. After it had risen above sea level to a greater height than now occurs, 
it was much cut into by streams, then sank again allowing the seas to invade 
the resulting valleys. This is the origin of the so-called "drowned valleys" 
like the Potomac, the Rappahannock, the York and the James. The Chesa- 
peake Bay itself is nothing but the drowned lower course of the river which 


we now call Susquehanna, to which the other streams mentioned were tribu- 
tary. All of these drowned lower courses form excellent navigable harbors."^ 
The smaller rivers and creeks of Lower Tidewater are tidal streams for the 
most part, and have no current other than that caused by the ebb and flow of 
the tide. Here are the names of some of them which will become very familiar 
as our story progresses: Lynnhaven River and its branches, Little Creek, 
Mason's Creek, Tanner's Creek, Elizabeth River and its branches, Nansemond 
River and its branches. Pagan River, 'Warwick River, and Hampton Creek. 

The coastal plain is poorly drained in the southeast, and this is why we have 
there the Great Dismal Swamp, a fresh water marsh of over 700 square miles, 
with Lake Drummond at its center, over two miles in diameter. Generally 
in the Lower Tidewater area, the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the 
Atlantic Ocean are composed of low sandy beaches enclosing lagoons or salt 
marshes.^* Captain John Smith noticed in 1607, probably from his place of 
confinement in the brig aboard the Susan Constant, that the coast of 'Virginia 
was composed of white hilly sand very much similar to The Downs, that part 
of the English coast between Dover and Ramsgate."^ 

The first explorers and settlers of this virgin land were obviously inter- 
ested in its natural resources, and their early reports were full of description 
of the flora and fauna of the region. As early as 1529, it was noted that the 
natives of tlie Atlantic coast lived on maize, fish and game (which they had 
in great abundance), and dressed in wolf and fox skins.-* Arthur Barlowe, 
who wrote about the first Roanoke expedition in 1584, mentioned seeing 


white cranes, bucks, conies or hares, and various varieties of fish, as well as 
fruits, melons, walnuts, cucumbers, gourds and pease. "Our pease," he said, 
probably referring to what had been brought from England, "grew fourteen 
inches in ten days.""^ A truly remarkable statement, if true! Unfortunately 
Barlowe did not reach the Chesapeake country, and Ralph Lane, who followed 
him in 1585-6, visited this area but did not report on it in any detail. He 
mentioned "multitudes of beare (being an excellent victual) and great woodes 
of sassafras and walnut-trees" but nothing more.-** When the Jamestown 
colonists arrived in 1607, they reported great cedars and cypress, many-hued 
wild flowers, strawberries four times larger than those at home, squirrels, 
conies, "blackbirds with crimson wings," and they even found turkey eggs.-^ 
In I6l6, Strachey told of the taming and breeding of wild turkey by the 
Indians, and the catching of apes.'"' Since there was no variety of ape native 
to this country, it is to be assumed he was referring to the raccoon, or more 
likely the opossum. When Captain John Smith explored the Elizabeth River 
in 1608, he said he saw the greatest pine and fir trees he had encountered 
in this land;^^ since the fir does not occur this far south, he must have been 
referring to the cedar. 

In addition to those mentioned above, we are indebted to Beverley (1703) 
for a very complete list of the game birds and animals familiar to Virginians 
in the seventeenth century: deer, rabbit, fox, raccoon, squirrel, opossum 
(describing the pouch for carrying the young) ; beaver, otter, muskrat and 
mink; swans, geese, and many varieties of duck; cranes, curlews, herons, and 
sandpipers; pheasants, partridge, pigeons, turkeys and larks.^" He also men- 
tions the "mock-bird," which, he said, so loves society that it will always 
make its home near the habitation of man, and "sing the sweetest wild Airs 
in the world. "^^ Many of these are still with us today. Bear and deer are still 
hunted in the Dismal Swamp. Every hunter, depending upon his inclination, 
is familiar with the pheasant, partridge and turkey, or the rabbit, squirrel, 
'coon and 'possum, in these fields and woods; or the swans, for which there 
is no open season, and the geese and ducks, in the coastal lagoons and 
marshes. The mocking-bird still sings his sweet wild airs near our homes. 
And we can add a few from our own experience: the brilliant cardinal, the 
industrious robin, the melodious song-sparrow of the beaches, the catbird and 
thrasher (cousins of the mocking-bird), the woodpecker, the lowly sparrow 
and starling, the ruby-throated hummingbird, the crow, the eastern Turkey 
vulture (here called turkey buzzard), many varieties of seagull, the American 
egret (here called white heron), the great blue heron, the osprey (here called 
fish hawk), the marsh hawk, and the bald eagle. Beverley tells of the fishing 
habits of the eagle, who waits for a hawk to catch a fish and then takes it 
from him,^* a thing which has been seen on these shores in the memory of 
persons now living. And last but not least, there is the purple or bee martin 


which, after a reconnoitering visit about the Ides of March, returns with his 
consort during the last days of that month to raise a family, his arrival being 
timed as faithfully and accurately as that of his cousin with a better press 
agent, the swallow of San Juan Capistrano. As a matter of fact, of the four 
hundred odd birds which have been observed in the state of Virginia, about 
half are to be seen in the Lower Tidewater region; this number includes both 
common and uncommon, migratory and resident.^' 

It was recognized by the colonists from the very beginning that the trees 
of this area were an invaluable source of material for shipbuilding. As early 
as 1620, a shipbuilder applied for land on the Elizabeth River, because of the 
abundant supply of timber for building and water for launching ships.*" 
Later, Beverley mentioned the importance of naval stores, such as pitch, tar, 
rosin, turpentine, and planks and timber for hulls, masts and yards.'^ One of 
the best sources of information on trees in this locality is found in the land 
grants and deeds of sale in the seventeenth century and later. In the recital 
of the metes and bounds of a piece of land, the old surveyors were accus- 
tomed to citing marked trees at corners, rather than driving a stake or setting 
a stone; here are some of the trees thus used in early surveys: pine, white 
oak, cedar, gum, holly, dogwood, mulberry and chinquapin.** The list of trees 
mentioned by Beverley is somewhat longer: oak, poplar, pine, cedar, cypress, 
sweet gum, holly, sweet myrtle, live oak, mulberry, chestnut, hickory and 
black walnut.** The sweet myrtle, says Beverley, yields a grayish berry which, 
when cooked, makes sweet-smelling green wax that is much favored for 
candles ;■*" this tree and berry are more familiar in other localities as the bay- 
berry. In the early eighteenth century, a Norfolk County gentleman bequeathed 
to one of his heirs a chair made of "black wornot,"*^ giving a historical basis 
for an old-fashioned pronunciation still much favored in these parts. 

The two plants which made the most profound impression and had the 
greatest influence on the early settlers were tobacco and maize or Indian corn. 
In 1620, an observer described tobacco as "a stinking, nauseous, and un- 
palatable weed, . . . certainly an odd Commodity, to make the Staple and 
Riches of a Country. It is neither of Necessity nor Ornament to human Life; 
the Use of it depends upon Humor and Custom, and may be looked upon, as 
one of the most singular and Extraordinary pieces of Luxury, that the Wan- 
tonness of Man hath yet invented or given in to."''- In spite of this opinion, 
the "weed" became exactly that, the staple and riches of the Colony, for it 
was at the same time both currency or medium of exchange and principal 
exported commodity. The earliest method of curing tobacco was in the sun,'" 
and here is a note on a revolutionary innovation in the process: "This year 
[1617] one Mr. Lambert made a great Discovery, in the Trade of Planting, 
for the Method of Curing Tobacco then was in Heaps. But this Gentleman 
found out, that it cured better upon Lines; and therefore the Governor 


[Argall] wrote to the Company to send over Line for that purpose."** As for 
maize, it was, said Beverley, "the staff of food" of the Indians;*^ it soon 
came to be so for the settlers who learned to make "pone" and other things 
from it. Beverley also told of a kind of peas which were kidney shaped and 
were sown "in the intervals of Rows of Corn."'"^ These peas, which are more 
properly beans, are still called by many 'cornfield peas" but more commonly 
black-eyed peas. The same writer lists a number of edible fruits, most of 
which are known here today: huckleberries, cranberries, cherries, plums, per- 
simmons (called by Hariot "Indian plums"), raspberries, strawberries, several 
varieties of grapes, watermelons and muskmelons (cantaloupe, called incor- 
rectly "mushmelon").*^ He also mentioned the gourd which was not eaten 
but its shell served to make cups or flagons.*® Nowadays this shell is used as 
a water dipper and, hung high from the ground, as a nesting place for the 
bee martin. One other fruit described by Beverley was the pod of the honey- 
tree.*® In times not too far gone, every small boy in this neighborhood, who 
could climb, was familiar with this tree which we called the honey-pod tree, 
and at one time or another tasted the sweet juice of its pods. 

Perhaps the most important natural resource of this region is represented 
by the fish and other seafood found in its waters. The first English visitors 
to Roanoke in 1584 told of the abundance of fish,^*" but did not report on 
individual species when the Chesapeake area was visited a year or so later. 
On the very first day of their arrival at Cape Henry in April 1607, the James- 
town colonists saw and tasted roasted oysters which they said were large and 
delicious.®^ This opinion of the famous Lynnhaven oyster is still widespread, 
and this bivalve has become so intimately associated with these parts that it 
is called scientifically the ostrea Virginiana.^- These earliest colonists also 
observed mussels, sturgeon and other fish. Captain John Smith mentioned the 
abundance of sturgeon in the spring and summer, and it was soon pointed 
out that "the Rowes of the said Sturgeon make Cavearie," for the English 
had been importing this delicacy from the Baltic countries. Smith furnished 
the first complete list of fish in these waters, most of which are still here: 
sturgeon, porpoise, stingray, mullet, white salmon, eel, catfish, perch, crab, 
toadfish, herring, shad, rock, trout, flounder, bass, and sheep's head.°* Smith 
had good cause to know of the stingray, as he was seriously wounded by its 
sting on one occasion.^* Later in the seventeenth century we hear of the drum, 
the croaker, and the tailor (now better known as bluefish).'^' In the early 
eighteenth century, we meet for the first time the famous and delicious spot, 
then called "old wife."^ This should not be confused with the alewife, 
another local fish used chiefly for fertilizer (here pronounced ellwie to rhyme 
with "necktie"). Smith said of the toadfish that it "will swell till it be like 
to brust [burst] when it cometh into aire."" One authority states that the 
Atlantic right whale was killed in numbers off the coast in colonial times. ^* 


In 1698, the Governor was petitioned to prohibit the killing and stripping 
of whales in the bay because of the pollution of the waters,^* and Beverley 
mentioned large exports of sperm oil, blubber and whale bone from Virginia 
to England.®" Beverley's remarks on shad are interesting: "The Shads at their 
first coming [up the rivers to spawn] are fat and fleshy; but they waste so 
extreamely in milting and spawning, that at their going down they are poor, 
and seem fuller of Bones, only because they have less flesh. "®^ Those who 
have eaten shad will appreciate this statement. A visitor to Norfolk in 1794 
remarked on the abundance and cheapness of food fish, and another, two 
years later, noted that the Chesapeake Bay was remarkable for the excellence 
of its crabs.®- With very few exceptions, most of the varieties mentioned above 
are known here today. Three of them have become famous under names 
closely associating them with this locality: the Lynnhaven oyster, the Ocean 
View or Norfolk spot, and the Hampton or blue channel crab. The sturgeon 
and whale visit these shores but rarely now. The white salmon mentioned by 
Smith has been identified by one authority as the spotted sea trout,®* prob- 
ably the same as the speckled salmon trout which was caught here occasion- 
ally a few years back. Smith's toadfish was what we call the swell toad, and 
is known in other places as the puffer or blow fish. The stingray was erro- 
neously identified with the thornback by some of the very early observers.®* 
The trout is the gray or sea trout, elsewhere called weakfish because of its 
tender mouth. The spot and croaker are still caught in large numbers with 
hand line or tackle, the mullet and alewife by. seine, and the bluefish by 
trolling. Another well known food fish common to these waters, the hogfish, 
was not mentioned by the early writers, nor was the menhaden which is a 
valuable source of fertilizer material and is caught chiefly by trawlers. The 
blue channel crab is highly esteemed as a food in both its hard and soft 
states; when hard, it is taken abundantly by handline and commercially by 
the trotline. The dogfish, a small variety of shark and not generally used for 
food, is seen occasionally and was mentioned by Beverley.®' 

The varieties of freshwater fish which occur here are fewer in number 
than the saltwater species, and belong generally speaking to four families: 
bass, perch, pike, and sunfish. Of the first, there are both large- and small- 
mouth black bass, the former predominating; of the second, the yellow, 
speckled or calico, and blue-nose perch; of the third, the pickerel and muskel- 
lunge; of the fourth, the bream and robin. There is also the grindle or bowfin, 
which does not belong to any of the above groups. 

The present writer, like Beverley,®® does not pretend to write in an expert 
or technical manner on the geography, flora, and fauna of Virginia or of this 
restricted locality. The above remarks are based on the observations of laymen, 
past and present, and the different varieties and species mentioned are those 


which are most famihar; the hsts are, of course, far from being exhaustive 
or complete.®^ 

Notes on Chapter I 

In order to conserve space and avoid the confusion of too many details, 
sources consulted will be cited in these notes only by author's last name and 
a short title. The reader will be able to refer to the Bibliography at the end 

of Volume II for complete details as to author's full name, complete title of 
work cited, place of publication, and date of publication. 

1. Jett, In Tidewater Virginia. 

2. Eubank, "Virginia's Towns and Cities," Part I, 25. 

3. Hening, Statutes at Large, I, 224. 

4. Ibid., pp. U5, 119. 

5. Clarke, The Eastern Shore. 

6. Sams, First Attempt, p. 40. 

7. Cartograjia de la America Central 

8. !'. injra. Chapter III. 

9. Gomara, Historia de las Indias, pp. 162-3. 

10. Clark, op. cit., p. 4. 

11. Mook, "Tindall's Map," p. 371. 

12. Verner, "First Maps of Virginia," p. 10; Clark, op. cit., p. 2. 

13. Verner, loc. cit.; Sams, op. cit., p. 124. 

14. Verner, op. cit., p. 9. 

15. loc. cit. 

16. Clark, op. cit., p. 31. 

17. Beverley, History of Virginia, p. 117. 

18. Encycl. Brit., XXVIII, 117. 

19. Virginia Historical Markers, pp. 195-207, passim. 

20. Beverley, op. cit., p. 253. 

21. t. infra. Chapters VII and XXV. 

22. V. infra, Chapter XXIX. 

23. Encycl. Brit., loc. cit. 

24. Ibid. 

25. Sams, Second Attempt, p. 107. 

26. Rivero Map of 1529; v. supra, note 7. 

27. Sams, First Attempt, p. 63. 

28. Ibid., p. 107. 

29. Sams, Second Attempt, p. 139. 

30. Sams, First Attempt, p. 322. 

31. Sams, Second Attempt, p. 485. 

32. Beverley, op. cit., p. 153. 

33. Ihid., p. 198. 

34. Ibid., p. 151. 

35. Rountrey & Richardson, Birds of Tidewater Virginia, 

36. Butt, "Norfolk County." 

37. Beverley, op. cit., p. 318. 

38. Norfolk County Records, passim. 

39. Beverley, op. cit., pp. 123, 130-1. 

40. Ibid., p. 137. 

41. Norfolk County Records, Book 10, p. 12. 

42. Stith, History of Virginia, pp. 182-3. 

43. Beverley, op. cit., p. 145. 

44. Stith, op. cit., p. 147. 


45. Beverley, op. cit., p. 143. 

46. Ibid., p. 144. 

47. Ibid., pp. 129-30, 133, 141. 

48. Ibid., p. 142. 

49. /*''2'., p. 136. 

50. Sams, First AllempI, p. 63. 

51. Sams, Second Attempt, p. 127. 

52. Webster. 

53. Pearson, "Fisheries of Colonial Virginia," Part I, p. 215. 

54. Sams, Second Attempt, p. 45. 

55. Pearson, op. cit.. Part I, p. 216. 

56. Ibid., p. 218, quotes Beverley. 

57. Ibid., p. 215. 

58. Encycl. Brit., loc. cit. 

59. Pearson, op. cit., Part V, p. 281. 

60. Beverley, op. cit., p. 76. 

61. Pearson, op. cit., Part I, p. 218. 

62. Ibid., pp. 219-20. 

63. Ibid., p. 215. 

64. Sams, Second Attempt, p. 457. 

65. Beverley, op. cit., p. 147. 

66. Ibid., p. 129. 

67. In addition to the sources cited, the writer is indebted for mformation on birds to Dr. W. 
Gerald Akers of the Faculty of the College of William and Mary (Norfolk Division), President 
of the Virginia Ornithological Society; and for data on freshwater fish to Jordan A. Pugh III, 
Attorney-at-law and former President of the Norfolk Chapter Izaak Walton League. Much of the 
information on saltwater fish is from the writer's personal knowledge and observation. 

Chapter II 

HAVING TOLD OF the geography, flora and fauna of Lower Tide- 
water Virginia, we shall turn to a consideration of the people who 
lived in this region before the Europeans arrived. Our main interest 
at this point will be in the races or tribes- — their habitat, life and language — 
before the permanent settlers arrived in April of 1607, and matters of later 
occurrence concerning the Indians will be treated in their chronological 
sequence. However, since present knowledge of the aboriginal life in this 
area depends largely on the observations of the first settlers, their writings 
may properly be quoted as being indicative of circumstances prevailing prior 
to their arrival. 

The first description we have of the Middle Atlantic coast and its people — 
not too far removed from Lower Tidewater — was that given by Giovanni da 
Verrazzano. He was in these parts in 1524, as will be noted in the next 
chapter, and while he did not enter the Chesapeake Bay, he did land both 
below and above its entrance: in the neighborhood of Cape Fear and of 
Chincoteague Island. His words on localities so near should therefore be of 
interest here. In glowing terms he described the beautiful fields, the sweet- 
smelling flowers, the tall trees, the wholesome air and temperate climate, and 
the plentiful game — both deer, rabbit and fowl. He told of the fine sand 
sloping upward from the shore in high dunes, with aromatic baytrees and 
cypresses beyond. The sea on this coast, when Verrazzano observed it was 
not rough and boisterous, but he pointed out that there were many shoals and 
no good harbors — thereby proving beyond all doubt that he did not see the 
Chesapeake Bay! He described the natives as being of average height, the 
men going naked except for a loincloth and wearing garlands of feathers on 
their heads; he saw an Indian girl who was tall and beautiful and said the 
women generally were clad in mossy foliage (what we would call Spanish 
moss) picked from the cypress trees. He said the natives' skin was russet-hued 
and their hair black, straight and worn knotted behind; they ate fish, game 
and wild peas, used reed arrows tipped with bone, and made their canoes 
from whole tree trunks, first charred and then hollowed out with shells.^ 


The Rivero map of 1529, previously mentioned, bears only a few brief 
notes on the natives, but some significant ethnological comparisons were made 
at that time.^ It was then pointed out that the Indians of our coast were of 
greater stature than those of Santo Domingo, while those of the northern 
part of South America were more warlike than either and used poisoned 
arrows. It was also stated, as we said before, that the natives of our area 
lived chiefly on maize, fish and game, and dressed in wolf and fox skins. 
Practically speaking we have few further details on the aborigines of Virginia 
before the arrival of the first English expedition at Roanoke in 1584. 

This first expedition was the one despatched under the sponsorship of 
Sir Walter Raleigh, and its explorations of the coast between Cape Henry 
and Cape Lookout took place in July and August of 1584. It was under the 
joint command of two Captains, Master Philip Amadas and Master Arthur 
Barlowe. The latter addressed to Raleigh a fairly complete report^ of his 
observations of the land and its people, which gives the first intimate glimpse 
of the geography and political divisions of these Indian territories as they 
must have existed before the arrival of the white men. Since the inhabitants 
of the area of interest of the present History formed a part of this whole, a 
complete picture of what Barlowe observed will not be out of place at this 
point. The obscure language of the description and the writer's unfamiliarity 
with the land sometimes cause a certain amount of confusion, and this should 
be constantly borne in mind. 

It appears that this small part of the American continent, first visited by 
the English, was divided into five principal provinces or kingdoms, each of 
which was ruled over by a king or chief; these divisions were Weapemeoc, 
Chawanook, Secotan, Pomouic and Newsiooc.'' At first we get the impression 
that the whole land, then called Virginia by the English, had been known 
as Wingandacoa — probably because this was their first contact with the 
Indians — but it is soon evident that Wingandacoa was just another name for 
the part called Secotan.'" 

Secotan (or Wingandacoa) was ruled over by Wingina, two of whose 
principal towns were Dasamonquepeuc and Pomeioc, the latter probably being 
his capital. These two towns were located on the mainland just opposite 
Roanoke Island and some distance to the southwest on Pamlico Sound respec- 
tively. Wingina had a brother. Granganimeo, who resided at Roanoac, a town 
on the northeast shore of the island of the same name.® Secotan covered the 
area between what we now know as the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River 
on the north, and the Pamlico River on the south, including the islands or 
banks to the east. 

To the north of Albemarle Sound was the land of Weapemeoc, bordering 
on the Ocean and extending probably as far as the south shore of Chesapeake 
Bay. Barlowe did not actually give the name of this province — it is learned 


from later accounts — nor did he know the name of its ruler. He did know 
(from hearsay only) that here was the most important town of the whole land, 
Skicoak by name, which the Indians affirmed to be so large that it would take 
an hour's journey to encompass it, an improbable exaggeration.' More will 
be said of its exact location later.* 

To the west was territory which was likewise not given a name, though 
we are told its chief town was Chawanook, a name which survives in the 
present Chowan River. Its ruler was Pooens, an independent chief; another 
neighboring chief, probably to the west, was Menatonon. These two formed 
part of an apparently very loose three-way confederacy with the chief 

Southwest of Secotan was the land of Pomouic, ruled by Piamacum; this 
was between the present Pamlico and Neuse Rivers. And south of the Neuse 
was the land of Newsiooc, whose name survives in that of the river, and 
whose chief was not identified by name. The rulers of Pomouic, Newsiooc 
and another unnamed land to the west "have mortal war" with Wingina. In 
spite of the fact that a peace had been concluded with Piamacum in 1582, 
the Secotans still bore malice toward his people on account of what we would 
call "atrocities" committed by them, and to which the Secotans undoubtedly 
retaliated to the best of their ability.^** 

In addition to the bodies of water mentioned above, some other Indian 
names should be noted. They called by the name Occam River the body of 
water known to us as Albemarle Sound, together with its extension to the 
west, the present Roanoke River, the upper part of which was called Mora- 
tuck. Into this body emptied the Nomopana (present Chowan River) and the 
Cipo (present Currituck Sound), of which latter more will be said later." 

We have written of this first English expedition in 1584 as if it were the 
first occasion on which white men had become intimately familiar with the 
Virginia coast and its inhabitants. Of this we cannot be sure, however, as will 
amply appear in Chapter III, following. Especially should it be mentioned at 
this point the story the people of Secotan told Captain Barlowe of the ship- 
wreck of some white men on their coast some twenty-six years earlier, which 
would be in 1558. This occurred on an island of the Outer Banks called then 
Wokokon, just to the southwest of the inlet now called Ocracoke. After being 
saved by the Indians, these white people remained on the island for three 
weeks, during which time they improvised a vessel by lashing together two 
Indian canoes, fitted them with masts to which they attached sails made of 
their own clothing, and attempted thus to make their departure. They were 
evidently unsuccessful, since remains of their boats were found shortly there- 
after on another nearby island. Other than these ill-fated visitors, the people 
of this region affirmed that they had never seen any white men before the 
arrival of the English.'- 

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It is interesting that Barlowe confirmed the statement of the earlier source 
already mentioned, in that he noted the arrows used on this coast were made 
of small canes (reeds) tipped with a sharp shell or a fish tooth. ^^ It is signifi- 
cant that the Indians of the immediate coast used this type of weapon more 
than the traditional stone arrowhead, material for making which was not so 
readily available here. 

The second expedition to Virginia under Raleigh's sponsorship stayed on 
these shores almost exactly a year, from June of 1585 until June of 1586. 
It was led by Raleigh's kinsman and neighbor, Sir Richard Grenville, as 
"General of Virginia," with Master (Captain) Ralph Lane as "Deputy Gen- 
eral," and Captain Amadas of the previous expedition as "Admiral." Like 
Barlowe, Lane wrote a complete account of the land and its inhabitants based 
on his observations and explorations." From this account may be obtained 
many more details to be added to what we already know. 

The most interesting part of Lane's account was the map based on his 
explorations, drawn by John White and engraved by Theodore De Bry. This 
map accompanied the narrative of Thomas Hariot, another member of Lane's 
party, which was done in 1588.^'' We give a reproduction of it here, so that 
the places mentioned may be located by the reader. In spite of its inaccuracies 
and crudeness from a cartographical standpoint, this map is in many cases 
a sound basis for the pin-pointing of Indian sites in Old Virginia, the area 
between the Chesapeake Bay and the Neuse River. 

This map, based on Lane's explorations of 1585, confirms much of Bar- 
lowe's account, but omits some details given by him; on the other hand, it 
indicates a greater knowledge in certain parts than Barlowe had a year earlier. 
Here we see clearly defined the three chief provinces of Virginia, which were 
Weapemeoc, Chawanook, and Secotan. Weapemeoc was bounded east by the 
Atlantic Ocean, south by Albemarle Sound, north by Chesapeake Bay (Chese- 
piooc Sinus) and west with an uncertain line from present Chowan to present 
Elizabeth River. Chawanook was the area between the present Roanoke and 
James Rivers on both sides of the Chowan's tributaries, the Meherrin, the 
Nottoway, and the Blackwater Rivers, as they are now known. Secotan was 
contained between Albemarle Sound and Roanoke Rivers on the north, east- 
ward to include Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks, southward to the 
Pamlico River, and westward to Mangoack or the land of the Mangoaks, 
"another kind of savages dwelling more to the westward . . ."" No further 
mention was made of the two territories to the south observed by Barlowe, 
indeed Lane stated in his account that Secotan was the southern limit of his 
explorations, just as to the north he went no further than to the "Chesipeans," 
and to the northwest the province of Chawanook." The Lane account men- 
tions more towns than are shown on the map, but the most significant thing 
is that there are shown only three towns in what is now the lower Tidewater 


area of Virginia. The reference above to the Chesipeans was evidently in- 
tended for the inliabitants of the town of Chesepiooc, with an Anglicized 
suffix substituted for the Indian one. It may be inferred from the map that 
this town was somewhere up the eastern branch of the present Lynnhaven 
River, probably in the vicinity of London Bridge. The second of these towns 
was Apasus, in the Chesapeake Beach or Ocean Park area, and the third and 
most important was Skicoak, mentioned in the Barlowe account. Skicoak is 
stated by most local historians to have been the exact spot later (1680) 
chosen as the site of Norfolk Town, on the north side of the Elizabeth River 
where its Eastern and Southern Branches flow together.'* Examination of this 
map will show that only in a very approxmiate manner can this claim be 
made. It is clear that Ralph Lane did not actually reach the Chesapeake Bay: 
his own statement that his farthest northward exploration was to the Chesi- 
peans so indicates, and this opinion is shared and confirmed by later writers.^® 
It is my guess that the site of Skicoak was farther down Elizabeth River, 
maybe between Fort Norfolk and Lamberts Point. 

Further evidence of Lane's lack of familiarity with the Bay is seen in the 
representation of land beyond it to the north and northwest, which does not 
coincide with the way it is known to have been. Nor can we identify the 
town of Comokee which is shown over there almost due north of Apasus; 
there is a bare possibility that this may be the same as Accomack, with sup- 
pression of prefix and addition of suffix, a thing not beyond the realm of 
probability as will be shown when we come to discuss the language of the 
Indians."" All in all this map of Lane's travels is a curious and interesting 
document, with its mixture of English, Latin and Indian nomenclature: the 
Indian names have been sufficiently enumerated, but note "Trinety harbor," 
for instance, and "Chesepiooc Sinus" for Chesapeake Bay, and "Promontorium 
tremendum," the "fearful cape," remembrance of which still survives in the 
name Cape Fear, although unfortunately for local tradition the term in Lane's 
day was applied to what we now know as Cape Lookout, as comparison with 
a modern map will clearly show. The little box on the lefthand side of the 
map shows it was authored by John White (loanne With) and engraved by 
Theodore DeBry (Theodoro de Brij). And finally we shall give a free trans- 
lation of the Latin legend or title: 

A part of America, now called Virginia, first discovered by the English at 
the expense of Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, in the year of our Lord 1585 and 
of the reign of Her Most Serene Highness, our Queen Elizabeth, the 27th, 
whose history, moreover, is related in an extraordinary book, to which pictures 
of the Natives have also been added. 

The pictures referred to are, of course, the DeBry engravings of the well 
known John White water colors."' 


Ralph Lane, like his predecessor, told the names of some of the chief men 
among the natives of the various Indian provinces. Here for the first time are 
mentioned Ensenore, father of Chief Wingina and Granganimeo; Osacan, 
Tanaquiny and Andacon, lieutenants and chief advisers to Wingina; Okisko, 
chief of Weapemeoc, who has been identified somewhat improbably with 
Opachisco, a brother of Powhatan.-'-' It is implied that Menatonon was now 
sole king of Chawanook, and no further mention is made of his former 
neighbor, Pooens, and we learn that Menatonon had a son named Skyco.-" 
We are told that Wingina changed his name to Pemisapan for some obscure 
reason after the death of his brother Granganimeo.-'^ It now appears that 
there was a confederacy between the Chawanooks and the Mangoacks, the 
people of another race or stock previously mentioned."^ Especially noted in 
this connection were the people of the town of Moratok, on the north side 
of the present Roanoke River, then called Moratok River after them.-^ The 
Chesapeakes, according to Lane, would not join in any alliance against the 
English; in fact, they on one occasion assisted him against the other tribes, 
as will later be related.-" Of prime importance is Lane's explanation of the 
term "Renapoak": "for so they call by that general name all the inhabitants 
of the whole main [land] of what province soever."-' Renapoak, derived 
from a word meaning "man" or "mankind," has great significance in estab- 
lishing the relationship between these peoples and the tribes to the north, as 
will appear below.-* 

John White, artist of the map and water colors, came again to Roanoke 
in 1587 as governor of Virginia at the head of the company of colonists 
which has come to be known as the Lost Colony. In his report-" of the voyage 
to Sir Walter Raleigh are to be found names which appear on his map of 
the previous exploration: the island of Croatoan, the bay of Chesapiok, the 
inlet of Hatorask (surviving in the name of Cape Hatteras at a different 
location), the island of Roanoke, and several of the Indian towns (Secota, 
Aquascogoc, Pomeiok, and Dasamonquepeuc) . White called Pemisapan by 
his former name of Wingina, and told of the christening of the friendly 
Indian, Manteo, who was invested with the feudal title of "Lord of Roanoke 
and Dasamonquepeuc." Also mentioned was Menatoan, undoubtedly identical 
with Menatonon, king or chief of Chawanook.^" 

No less than four natives of Old Virginia visited England during this 
period. Manteo and Wanchese went back with Barlowe and Amadas in 
August 1584, returning to Virginia with Ralph Lane a year later.^' In June 
1586, the latter carried Manteo (his second visit) and another named Towaye. 
They were with John White upon his arrival at Roanoke in July 1587.^= In 
1586, Sir Richard Grenville made his second visit to Roanoke to see the colony 
left under his deputy, Ralph Lane. This group had already been taken back 
to England by Sir Francis Drake a few months earlier, and apparently Sir 



Richard took with him to his home in Bideford, Devonshire, a native "Win- 
ganditoian" (native of Wingandocoa or Secotan) as a personal servant. This 
native was on 26 March 1588 christened at Bideford under the name of 
"Raleigh," and died there in April 1589.^* 

It is a most significant circumstance that in all these early accounts there 
is no mention of Powhatan, ruler of the great confederacy to the north of 
Chawanook and Weapemeoc, and this in spite of the fact that there is later 
presumptive evidence he had a hand in the still unknown fate of the Lost 
Colony of Roanoke.^^ It is also noteworthy that the only tribe of present 
Tidewater Virginia mentioned by the explorers from Roanoke was that of the 
Chesapeakes with its three villages of Skicoak, Apasus and Chesapeake, 
located in what was later to become Lower Norfolk County (present Norfolk 
and Princess Anne Counties) . 

We catch our first glimpse of the inhabitants of the James River and 
Hampton Roads area from three principal sources: an account of explora- 
tions that took place late in May, 1607, usually attributed to Captain Gabriel 
Archer;^' a map of explorations made in May, 1607, and February and March, 
1607/8, drawn by Robert Tindall in 1608;^* and lastly Captain John Smith's 
account of his explorations of 1608, first published (with the now famous 
Smith map) in 1612.^' For comparative purposes, it seems convenient to list 
the names of the thirteen Indian habitations shown by Tindall, their names 
as given by Archer and Smith, and the usually accepted modern spelling: 





North Bank James 

; River above Jamestown: 













South Bank ditto: 

Below Jamestown, 

both sides of River: 



York River: 














Some explanatory comments are necessary here. It will be noted that there are 
two duplications in the Tindall list. The first of these was caused by the fact 
that Tindall followed some misinformation which Archer had concerning a 


Pamunkey Town on the James.*^ The Pamunkeys have always been, and their 
reservation still is, on the neck of land between the two branches o£ the 
York River.*^ The duplication of the name Powhatan was a fact, and arose 
from the circumstance that Powhatan's son, Tanxpowhatan (Little Powhatan), 
ruled the town at the falls of the James where Richmond now is, whereas, 
the other Powhatan on the York, a town better known as Werowocomoco, 
was the seat of the overlord or "emperor" Powhatan, the capital of his con- 
federacy.''^ One must not confuse Tappahanna with the settlement by a simi- 
lar name on the Rappahannock River; this town, across the James from 
Jamestown, was more properly called by Smith and others Quiyoughcohanock.*^ 
It will be noted also that Archer does not mention the three Lower Tidewater 
tribes — Warrasquyoacke, Nansemond and Kecoughtan^^ — although he did men- 
tion four not shown on Tindall's map: Chessipian (Chesapeake), Monanacah 
or Monacan (whose name survives in Maniken above Richmond), MatapoU 
(Mattaponi, whose reservation still exists on the river of the same name, called 
by Smith Mattapament) , and Youghtamong (Youghtanund according to 
Smith), from the headwaters of the Pamunkey River.'*" Of all these tribes 
named so far, only two (Chesapeake and Monacan) did not belong to the 
Powhatan confederacy, and only one (Monacan) belonged to a different lin- 
guistic stock.*'' 

Of course, Smith's map shows more detail as to Indian villages than any 
other source, and confirms Strachey's statement as to the bounds of Pow- 
hatan's empire: from the north end of Chesapeake Bay to the Chawons 
(Chawanook) and the land of the Mangoags on the south, and from the 
Atlantic Ocean to the fall line. In this territory, Smith shows approximately 
thirty "kings' houses" (tribal capitals) not to mention many "ordinary 
houses" (subordinate towns) too numerous to give here; there are also ten 
more tribal capitals in what is now Maryland, but it is doubtful that the 
overlord's power reached that far from his capital on the Pamunkey (York) 

The Powhatan confederacy, as it is now called by historians, was a strong 
and closely knit nation (if we may use the term), quite different from the 
loose and unstable alliance already noted between Chawanook and Secotan. 
Of the thirty tribes under Powhatan's domination, there was a hard core of 
six (Powhatan, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Arrohatoc, Appamatuck, Youghta- 
nund), which could be classed as his oldest subjects and under the most 
trusted of the subordinate rulers, since they were his by inheritance.*® All the 
others owed him allegiance by right of conquest. The rulers over inherited 
and conquered alike were in many cases closely allied by blood or marriage 
to the overlord. There were, for example, his five brothers: Opechancanough, 
chief of both Pamunkey and Chickahominy; Kequotough and Taughhaiten, 
two of the former's deputies; Opitchapan (whom Beverley calls Itopatin®"), 


a councillor, and Jopassus, chief of Patawomeck (Potomac) ; there were also 
his sons: Tanxpowhatan, chief of his own native tribe; Pochins, chief of 
Kecoughtan; and Nantaquaus, chief of Accawmack; there was a brother-in- 
law, Opachisco, as well as a son-in-law, Tomacomo, both among his chief 

A word should be said here about the great chief or overlord of this con- 
federacy. While Indian word etymologies are doubtful at best, it is generally 
agreed that his name originated in pauatan, "leaps of water" or falls in a 
river current.''- This is a logical explanation in view of his town and tribe 
already mentioned, located at the falls of the James River, going by the name 
of Powhatan. It follows also that the name would be applied to the river 
(which is shown on Smith's map as "Powhatan flu."), the tribal chief, and 
to the confederacy of his conquests. These things being so, it may properly 
be concluded that the tribe at the falls was the emperor's own tribe and that 
he turned its leadership over to his son when he himself became overlord. 
This is why Tindall's map shows the name Poetan (Powhatan) twice, the 
one on the York River being the capital of the confederacy, Werowocomoco, 
as already indicated. It is an amazing fact that the name of the great chief 
survives in an almost unrecognizable form in Purtan Bay,"'^ on the north side 
of York River about sixteen miles above Yorktown; on this little bay is the 
exact site of Werowocomoco.^* 

The name of the overlord which is most familiar to us today was not his 
only name, in fact it was not his most usual name. He was called Powhatan 
by neighboring chiefs just as the head of a Scottish clan might be called by 
its name, the MacGregor or the MacTavish, for example. His own people, 
however, referred to him as Ottaniack or Mamanatowick, "... but his proper 
right name, which they salute him with, himself in presence . . ." was Wahun- 
sonacock.^' No account of Powhatan would be complete without a passing 
mention of his favorite daughter, Pocahontas or Matoaka, who was to play 
an important part in the early history of the Virginia colony, as will be 
related in the appropriate place.'''' 

Powhatan's inherited tribes, the nucleus of his empire, occupied the terri- 
tory on both sides of the middle reaches of the James and York Rivers, but as 
the English became more firmly entrenched on the lower banks of the rivers, 
he found it advisable to move his chief residence from Werowocomoco farther 
inland to another of his towns, Orapax by name, in what is now Hanover 
County.^' The territory ruled by Powhatan was called "Attanoughkomouck" 
by his people in the early seventeenth century, according to the inscription on 
the de Passe engraving of Pocahontas's portrait done in 1616."'* Powhatan 
died in April 1618, having designated his brother Opitchapan (or Itopatin) 
to succeed him. Thus the brother Opechancanough, who was next in seniority, 
was passed over for having tried to win away from Powhatan the powerful 


Chickahominy tribe of which he (Opechancanough) was chief. However, 
Opitchapan was not strong enough to hold the confederacy together, and 
Opechancanough eventually seized the power for himself.''^ 

Having noted very sketchily the composition and political structure of the 
Powhatan confederacy, let us consider in more detail those tribes which were 
in our area of chief interest, Lower Tidewater Virginia. Here again, the best 
source of information is the Smith map of 1612, and for sake of convenience 
the Indian locations are here classified as to the counties, which were estab- 
lished much later. It should be borne in mind that these locations are very 
approximately indicated. 

In the former Elizabeth City County, there was only one place of Indian 
habitation, the town which was the residence of the chief of the Kecoughtan 
tribe, which (as was customary) bore the name of the tribe. This chieftain 
was Pochins, as before stated, said to be son of Powhatan. The location of 
Kecoughtan, as given on the very inconclusive Smith and Tindall maps, seems 
to have been on the east side of the mouth of Hampton Creek; however, 
recent archaeological research casts some doubt on previous interpretations 
of these maps, and strongly suggests that the Indian village may have been 
on the west side of that creek. This is a matter to be more fully discussed 
at a later point. The Kecoughtan tribe was at first meeting very friendly and 
well-disposed toward the English.^ 

In present Isle of Wight County, were shown three Indian villages of the 
Warroscoyack tribe. The tribal capital, residence of chief Taukonekintaco, bore 
the name of the tribe, and seems to have been located inland a little to the 
south and west of where Smithfield now is. The other two villages of this 
tribe were near the James River on either side of the mouth of Pagan Creek: 
Mathomauk upstream, and Mokete downstream. The Warroscoyack tribe was 
also friendly in the beginning and was willing to barter much needed corn 
to the English.**! 

In present Nansemond County, there were four Indian villages. Here again 
the tribal capital bore the name of the tribe, Nandsamund, and was located 
approximately seven miles north of Suffolk on the west side of the great bend 
of Nansemond River. The other three towns of this tribe were: Treacosick, on 
the west side of the river a little to the north of Suffolk ; Mattanock, near the 
present Chuckatuck; and Mantoughquemeo, on the east side of the river's 
bend. The name of the Nandsamund chief was apparently not recorded by 
the early settlers. This tribe was also willing to trade with the English, but 
on one occasion joined with the Chesapeakes in attacking a party led by 
Captain John Smith.®^ 

In the former Lower Norfolk County (now Norfolk and Princess Anne and 
the cities carved from them), there was the Chesapeake tribe. It will be 
recalled that Lane's map of 1585 showed three villages here: Skicoak, Apasus 


and Chesepiooc. It would be natural to imply from the latter name (being 
that of the tribe) that it was the capital, but early accounts make it clear that 
Skicoak was the most important of the three. Smith's map shows only one 
habitation in this locality — with the usual symbol for "king's house"— appar- 
ently at the same spot where the former map showed Skicoak, but it was 
called Chesapeak. It can only be inferred that Smith arbitrarily gave the 
tribe's name to the town. In any case, the name of Skicoak was not again 
recorded by any of the early writers. 

Powhatan made it clear that the Chesapeakes were not of his confederacy 
but were "an Enemye generally to all thes Kyngdomes.""^ In 1585, according 
to Lane, the Chesapeakes and the Mangoaks were in an alliance with Pemisa- 
pan ( Wingina) , chief of Secotan, against the English. It was pointed out then 
that Okisko, chief of Weapemeoc, refused to join this group, but the "rest 
of his province" — presumably the Chesapeakes — did so. As a matter of fact, 
when Lane delivered his final blow against Pemisapan, the Chesapeakes were 
on his (Lanes's) side, and it has been inferred by some that they switched 
sides when they found out that the conspiracy had been discovered.^ Later 
they were the perpetrators of a hostile attack when the First Colonists landed 
at Cape Henry on the 26 April 1607,"° and there is evidence that they joined 
with the Nandsamunds (who were Powhatan's subjects) on another occasion, 
as before noted, to attack an exploring party under Smith. "^ Apparently the 
Chesapeake tribe was a very independent breed of men! 

The tribes or clans of the Powhatan confederacy belonged to the Algon- 
quian group or stock, whereas many — though not all — of their neighbors 
belonged to unrelated stocks. Taking them from the southeast in a clockwise 
direction, with one exception the tribes of Old Virginia (Chesapeake, Weape- 
meoc, Secotan and Chawanook) were Algonquian.*'' The exception was the 
Mangoag (Mangoak, Mandoag) tribe, who Lane said were "another kind 
of a savage living more to the westward."®* Smith's map places them more 
northerly than does Lane — just to the west of the Chawons (Smith's spelling 
of Chawanook) ; it is the general opinion that they were of Iroquoian stock, 
and identical with the Nottoways,^ although it must be borne in mind that 
the Tuscaroras (also Iroquoian) were in the same neighborhood until early 
eighteenth century, when they went north to join their kin and form the Six 
Nations confederacy.'^" On the Roanoke River near the present Virginia-North 
Carolina boundary were the Occaneechees, a tribe of Siouan stock, of whom 
more later.''^ Above the falls of the James were the Monacans (whose name 
survives in the village of Manikin) and at the falls of the Rappahannock 
were the Mannahoacks, both said to be also of Siouan stock.'^- Above the 
Potomac were those later called Conoy, and on the Eastern Shore, north of 
Powhatan's subject tribes of Accawmack and Accohannock were Tockwoghs 
and Kuscarawaoks (or Nanticokes) in what is now Maryland, and Atquana- 


chukes (probably Lenilenape) on the Delaware, all of these northerly neigh- 
bors were of the related Algonquian family. It has been said that the Atlantic 
coast Algonquians bordered southerly on those of Muskhogean stock" (Choc- 
taws, Chickasaws, Seminoles and Creeks), and although the habitat of the 
latter has generally been stated to be Georgia and the Gulf States, it might 
well be so that those tribes of Pomouic and Newsiooc, who were "at mortal 
war" with Secotan in 1584,^* were of the Muskhogean family. 

The classification of races according to language is an ancient and con- 
venient method ; in the case of the North American Indian tribes it is the only 
practicable one. Indeed, it has been pointed out that "in no other part of the 
globe did language tally so nearly with kinship" as in North America.''^ More 
than fifty ethno-linguistic stocks have been counted on our continent north 
of Mexico."® Of these, the three most important on the Atlantic coastal plain 
were the Iroquoian, the Siouan and the Algonquian. 

The Algonquian family derives its name from the Algonquin or Algonkin, 
a tribe originally seated near the site of the present city of Ottawa. Champlain 
in 1603, and other French explorers shortly thereafter, used the term (Algoum- 
mequin or Algommequin) to refer to this tribe and its kin,'''^ and Robert 
Beverley late in the same century knew in a slightly confused way that the 
Tidewater Virginia Indians belonged to a stock which he called "Algon- 
kine."'^ The Algonquian family formerly occupied a more extensive territory 
than any other in North America: a rough triangle having its apexes in the 
Province of Alberta and at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River in Canada, 
and in Pamlico Sound in North Carolina. This vast territory was not solidly 
occupied by them but interspersed here and there by other stocks. Just to give 
some idea of the extent and composition of the Algonquian stock, here are 
the names and the geographical distribution of some of the better known 
tribes :^» 

a. Western Division (east slope of Rocky Mountains) 

Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Piegan), Arapaho, Cheyenne. 

b. Northern Division (north of Great Lakes) 

Chippewa or Ojibwa Group (Cree, Ottawa), Algonkin Group. 

c. Northeastern Division (Quebec and Maritime Provinces, Maine) 

Montagnais Group, Abnaki Group (Micmac, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot). 

d. Central Division (south of Great Lakes) 

Sauk Group (Fox, Kickapoo), Miami Group (Illinois, Peoria), Menominee, 
Potawatomi, Shawnee. 

e. Eastern Division (Atlantic coast south of Maine) 

Pennacook, Massachuset, Natick, Narranganset, Montauk, Mahican, Unami, 
Unalachtigo, Lenilenape, Nanticoke, Conoy, Powhatan Confederacy, Roanoke 
Group (Chesapeake, Weapemeoc, Secotan, Chawanook). 

It must be remembered that we are dealing with two stages of chronology in 
listing the above tribes. The east coastal tribes from Maine to the Carolinas, 


being the first to stand in the way of colonization, were early defeated and 
their organization broken up; they gradually withdrew to the west and to 
Canada while a few scattered remnants were left on reservations and were 
soon to lose their identity.''" The other tribes were able longer to maintain 
their identity in the face of westward expansion, and indeed large communities 
of them still carry on the language and customs of their forefathers. In 1910 
information was available from Algonquian speakers of the following tribes: 
Piegan and Cheyenne (Montana), Arapaho (Wyoming), Menominee (Wis- 
consin), Micmac (Quebec), Chippewa (Minnesota), Fox (Iowa), and Sauk, 
Kickapoo and Shawnee (Oklahoma) ; at the same time there were, at the 
Carlisle School, Carlisle, Pa., representatives of the following: Arapaho, 
Cree, Menominee, Sauk, Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Abnaki.**^ 

In considering the extinct groups, it is difficult to distinguish — especially 
in the Atlantic coastal area — between confederacy, tribe, band and clan; the 
early writers frequently designated settlements of the same tribe as separate 
tribes, and most often, as has been seen, tribe and village bore the same 
name, which occasionally was that of a neighboring stream or other feature.*^ 

Much has been written along general lines about the Algonquian stock; 
the reader who would further satisfy his curiosity is referred to the excellent 
publications (bulletins and handbooks) of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 
Smithsonian Institution, which contain much information and bibliography. 
However, our immediate concern here is with the Indian of Lower Tide- 
water Virginia at a remote period, and the best source of mformation on 
this subject, as on many other seventeenth century Virginia matters, is the 
historian Beverley, who has been and will continue to be frequently quoted 
in these pages. Robert Beverley (1673-1722), whose principal land holdings 
were in Gloucester and King and Queen Counties, spent much of his early 
manhood in Jamestown, where he held various minor political offices; it is 
important to us that he also owned land in Elizabeth City County.^^ His 
History was published in 1705, from a manuscript completed by 1703, so it 
can be said that his work was based chiefly on observations of the latter 
decade of the seventeenth century. Beverley is credited with being a "careful 
and accurate observer, possessed of considerable scientific curiosity."*^ While 
he is somewhat removed in time and space from our area and period of 
interest, it may be said that his remarks on the aborigines of this country 
represent a fairly accurate picture of Indian life in Tidewater Virginia about 
the time of the Roanoke and Jamestown settlements. What follows is based 
on Beverley's observations except where otherwise specifically indicated.'*' 

The aboriginal natives of this area were of the "middling and largest 
stature of the English" (five feet eight to six feet, according to other sources) ; 
their skin was naturally of a tawny hue, but usually turned much darker 
from the use of grease and the effect of the sun. Their hair was straight and 


both hair and eyes black. They kept their faces clean-shaven and delighted 
in fanciful haircuts, such as the "cock's comb," for example. Their shaving 
and haircutting vvas apparently accomplished by the use of a mussel shell 
with which they pulled the hair out by the roots. For clothing they wore only 
a loincloth for modesty and buckskin shoes called moccasin. In cold weather 
they would wear a mantle or cloak of deer or other skin or fur. 

Like the men, the women went naked save for a short skirt reaching 
from navel to mid-thigh, "by which means they have the advantage of dis- 
covering their fine Limbs and compleat Shape."**" For ornament they wore 
necklaces and bracelets of beads. Their hair was long, and was permitted to 
hang down the back, or done up in a net of beads, or neatly tied in a knot. 
They kept their skin clean with oil, whereas the men were "commonly 
bedaub'd all over with Paint." The "upper class" of people of both sexes 
wore coronets or headbands of bead or fur, while the "common people" went 
bareheaded, occasionally with large turkey feathers stuck in their hair. 
Beverley opines that the Indian women were beautiful, "wanting no Charm, 
but that of a fair Complexion." 

These Tidewater Indians were mainly sedentary and agricultural, but 
subsisted as well on the results of their hunting and fishing. They settled 
in towns of varying size ruled by a "king" or chief (called iveroivance) . 
The chief over more than one town usually had a lieutenant or "vice-regent" 
in each. These towns were fortified by palisades of logs ten to twelve feet 
high. Their houses (wigwangs according to Beverley) were of two styles: 
small or conical like a bee-hive, and large or oblong with a vaulted roof; 
both were made of saplings covered with bark. 

Concerning their food, Beverley said, "Their Cookery has nothing com- 
mendable in it, but that it is perform'd with little trouble. They have no 
other Sauce but a good Stomach, which they seldom want."*^ They boiled or 
broiled all their meat and usually boiled fish or flesh with homony, which 
was Indian corn broken in a mortar, soaked, and boiled ten or twelve hours. 
They would dress and draw their game, plucking fowls and skinning animals, 
but cooked fish without cleaning or scaling. They baked bread (^oppone^ in 
cakes or loaves, covered with leaves, warm ashes and hot coals. They had 
no salt or seasoning save the salt ash from hickory and several other woods. 
They knew no drink but water until the arrival of the English. They ate 
with their fingers or with a cockleshell spoon holding half a pint. Said 
Beverley, "They laugh at the English for using small ones, which they must 
be forc'd to carry so often to their Mouths, that their Arms are in danger of 
being tir'd, before their Belly."** 

The Indians had no iron or steel before the English came. They used 
knives made of shell and hand-axes {^tomahawk) made by binding a stone 
head to a wooden handle with a glue made of turpentine. They usually 


made their bows of locust, a very hard wood, and their arrows of reeds, 
fledged with wild turkey feathers and pointed with a "white transparent 
stone" or with the spur of the wild turkey cock. They made fire by turning 
a piece of hardwood or spindle against a soft, dry piece with dry leaves to 
help it kindle. Their household utensils were chiefly baskets woven from 
grass, gourds to hold water, and earthenware pots for cooking. Beverley 
said he saw both birch and log (dugout) canoes, but it is doubtful that the 
Lower Tidewater Indians made other than the latter; it will be recalled that 
the English Colonists saw one in late April of 1607 near the site of Hampton 
— "a canoe which was made out of a whole tree, which was five and forty 
foot long by the rule."** 

Our Indians regarded their marriage bonds very highly, and while separa- 
tion (divorce) was quite easy, it was very rare. Beverley believed the accusa- 
tion of prostitution made by some people was unfounded, and based on 
the freedom of manners of the Indian maidens, who were full of mirth 
and good humor. He believed that it was this freedom "which uncharitable 
Christians interpret as Criminal upon no other ground, than the guilt of 
their own Consciences."^ The Indian children were bound to a board until 
several months old. They were carried on their mother's backs in the open 
in fair weather, but under the fold of the cloak in the winter. The youths 
between ten and fifteen years of age had to submit to the rite called huskanaw, 
a rather severe ordeal whereby they were initiated into the estate of manhood. 

As to their religion, the Indians worshipped Spirits in many manifesta- 
tions of nature, such as the Sun, Moon, storms, watercourses, etc. However, 
they believed in one eternal beneficent Deity, dwelling above, and they be- 
lieved it was necessary to pacify the Evil Spirits living on earth. Their priests 
and conjurers were very influential; they performed their rites in a "general 
language" (of which more will be said later), just as Roman Catholics do 
in Latin. They taught that the souls of good men went to an Elyseum of 
good hunting and fishing, beautiful women and eternal spring; that the 
wicked went to a "filthy, stinking Lake" after death, where they were tor- 
mented in eternal fire. 

They had the custom of preserving the corpses of their chiefs or rulers 
by removing the skin whole, scraping the flesh from the bones which were 
then dried in the sun. The bones were put back into the skin, filled with 
sand and sewn up. These remains were kept in a special shelter called 
Quiocossan (their nearest equivalent to chapel or church), each corpse with 
its dried flesh sewn in a basket at its feet. In each such cabin was set up a 
Quioccos or idol (also called Okee or Kiwasa) to guard the dead. Beverley 
told of examining one of these idols secretly during the absence of its 
keepers; it was made of a sort of demountable wooden frame covered with 
pieces of cloth and stuffed, the whole figure being taken apart and wrapped 


in grass mats when not set up in place. A contemporary of Beverley's also 
described the burial customs for common people: holes dug in the ground 
were lined with bark and sticks, and the bodies wrapped in the best cloth 
obtainable were deposited therein with all the deceased's clothes, skins and 
other worldly possessions. The grave was then covered with sticks and earth 
and the remains lay as in a coffin.'^ 

The Tidewater Indians had not many diseases, said Beverley. Their 
priests were their physicians and knew the hidden properties of plants. Their 
general word for "physick" or medicine was ivissocan (wighsacan), which 
they obtained chiefly from roots and barks, but rarely from leaves. For ex- 
ternal application they were bruised or pounded, taken internally they were 
first soaked in water. The medicine men were familiar with the therapeutic 
value of sweating, and each town had a "sweating-house," a sort of Turkish 
bath in which steam was formed by pouring cold water over large stones 
heated red-hot. 

The use of tobacco among the Tidewater Indians was more ceremonial 
than for the gratification of an appetite. They burned it like incense as a 
sacrifice to the Sun to pray for fair weather on a journey, or threw it into 
a watercourse which they wished to cross, to entreat the Spirit there dwelling 
to grant safe passage. The pipe of peace had great significance in their 
councils in any kind of negotiations. Likewise they followed the well-known 
custom of burying a tomahawk to conclude peace between warring bands. 

Their amusements and pastimes consisted chiefly in singing, dancing, 
instrumental music and boisterous athletic games. To quote Beverley again: 
"Their Singing is not the most charming that I have heard. It consists much 
in exalting the Voice, and is full of slow melancholy accents. However, I must 
allow even this Musick to contain some wild Notes that are agreeable."^^ 
The "instrumental Musick" can scarcely be called such by our standards, 
since their instruments were chiefly of the percussion family: drums made of 
earthenware pots half full of water with skins stretched over the opening, 
and rattles made of gourds. They also had some wind instruments. Smith said, 
"For musicke they use a thicke cane, on which they pipe as on a recorder," 
and Percy noted they had "a flute made of reed."""' 

They reckoned time by dividing the year into five seasons: the Budding 
of Corn, the Earing of Corn, the Highest Sun, the Corn-gathering, and 
the Call of the Goose. They made their greatest annual feast at Corn-gather- 
ing, which was apparently not so much an occasion for Thanksgiving, but for 
boasting that the harvest was over. The Winter season was called Cohonks, 
after the call of the wildgoose, and this was also their means of counting 
years, implying so many annual returns of that fowl. They named the 
months by Moons, as the Stag Moon, the Corn Moon, the first and second 



Moon of Cohonks, etc. ; and they divided the day not by hours, but only into 
three parts: the Rise, the Power, and the Setting of the Sun. 

The Indians apparently had no private property or riches in the modern 
sense of the word. They held their land in common, and valued skins and 

(Aihmolean Museum. Dept. of Antiques) 


furs for their usefulness and beads for ornament. The latter were of several 
kinds; viz, peak, roanoke, and runtees?'^ Peak was made of conchshell and 
was of two colors, dark purple and white, being valued for barter purposes 
the former at 18d, the latter at 9d per yard. Beverley said the more valuable 
or purple was called Wampom peak, but in this he was mistaken, since the 
word U'ampum and its variants mean "white" in many of the Algonquian 
tongues, as we will later note.'** Roanoke was of less value and was made of 
cockleshells; runtees were large, round, flat tablets, etched with drawings 


such as circles, halfmoons, stars, and worn suspended around the neck like a 
medal. There are many early accounts of the wearing of pearl and copper 
ornaments by the chiefs and their consorts."'' 

One authority notes that the "Use of roanoke as a geographical term 
seems to have been limited to Virginia.""^ If this be true, the usage probably 
arose through the application of the Island's name to this particular kind of 
bead because it may have been widely used in that locality. Be that as it may, 
it will certainly be of interest to mention here a remarkable relic of this mate- 
rial which sur\'ives from the early seventeenth century, and probably earlier. 
This is the deerskin mantle purportedly given by Powhatan to Captain 
Christopher Newport in 1608."^ It is now owned and displayed in the Ash- 
molean Museum (collection of John Tradescant) at Oxford University, and 
was described in the Musaemn Tvadescantianum (1656)"'* as "Pohatan, King 
of Virginia's habit, all embroidered with shells, or Roanoke." The mantle 
is made of two deerskins sewn together, with an embroidered design the 
central figure of which represents a man flanked by two animals (possibly 
deer), in what may be intended for a suppliant posture. The three figures are 
surrounded by embroidered circles of beads in the number of thirty-one, al- 
though there seem to be traces of others which have disappeared. It is a 
strange coincidence that this is exactly the number of "kingdoms" or tribes 
ruled by Powhatan between the fall-line and the ocean, from the Potomac 
to the James including the south bank of the latter as well as the southern 
part of the Eastern Shore Peninsula. It might be said that the mantle is 
symbolic of Powhatan's little "empire," the central figure representing the 
"emperor" himself, and the surrounding design his domination over man and 
beast in the territory under his control. Here are the names of these thirty-one 
components of the empire: 

Werowocomoco, the capital Gloucester 

1. §Pamunkey King William 

2. §Mattaponi King William 

3. Uttamussack King William 

4. Kupkipcock King William 

5. Payankatank Middlesex 

6. Opiscopank Middlesex 

7. Nantaughtacund Essex 

8. Kecoughtan Elizabeth City 

9. §Paspahegh Charles City 

10. Weanock Charles City 

11. Chickahominy Charles City 

12. Arrohateck Henrico 

13. §Powhatan Henrico 

14. Kiskiack York 

15. fYoughtanund Hanover 

16. Nandsamund Nansemond 


17. Warrascoyack Isle of Wight 

18. Quiyoughcohanock Surry 

19- §Appamatuck Chesterfield 

20. Accohanock Northampton 

21. Accawmack Northampton 

22. Cuttatawomen Lancaster 

23. Moraughtawond Richmond 

24. Tappahanock Richmond 

25. Pissaseck King George 

26. Cuttatawomen Stafford 

27. Patawomeck Stafford 

28. Tauxenent Prince William 

29. Onawmanient Westmoreland 

30. Cekakawwon Northumberland 

31. Wighcocomoco Northumberland 

A short digression is necessary here for comment on this list. It is based 
on the tribal capitals shown on Smith's map; the "great chief's council 
place," being the confederacy capital, is represented by the male figure on 
the mantle, the others by the thirty-one circles. According to Beverley, 
Uttamussack was the religious capital where the principal temple and idols 
were kept.** The six inherited tribes are marked thus (§).^"° The first two, 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi, have been substituted for Cinquoteck and Mena- 
pucunt which show on the Smith map on the neck of land between the 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi Rivers, where Tindall shows "Pamonke"^**^ and 
where there are still the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Indian Reservations. 
Smith's Menapucunt (town) and Mattapament (river) and Archer's MattapoU 
all seem to be variants of the same name, of which the usual modern form 
is Mattaponi. Youghtanund (tribe) replaces Orapax which was apparently 
the residence of its chief. We cannot explain the occurrence of Cuttatawomen 
in two difi^erent places. We have added Chickahominy, since this is known 
from other sources to have been an important tribe, but its exact position is 
not clear. As noted above, Opechancanough, said to be Powhatan's brother 
although this is doubtful, was its king or chief as well as being ruler of the 
Pamunkey; it has already been pointed out that his efforts to remove them 
from Powhatan's influence caused the latter to designate another successor. ^''- 
It has been pointed out elsewhere that the Chickahominy tribe was unique 
among the Tidewater bands in not being directly under the control of Pow- 
hatan,^"* though apparently not as completely independent as the Chesapeakes. 
As to the relationship between Powhatan and Opechancanough, Beverley 
said Smith was wrong in saying they were brothers, as the Indians did not 
consider them so: "For they say he [Opechancanough] was a Prince of a 
Foreign Nation, and came a great Way from the South-West: And by their 
Accounts, we suppose him to have come from the Spanish Indians, some- 
where near Mexico, or the mines of St. Barbe:"'"^ Another source credits 


Ralph Hamor with the statement that Powhatan's father also came from a 
southern tribe driven north by the Spaniards,"^ and still another points out 
that Powhatan described a distant land called Anoiie, which may have been 
Mexico, where there were "walled houses," probably meaning European- 
style dwellings."® It has been said that Powhatan regularly sent out spies 
to bring him word of what was going on in the South and in the West 
Indies."^ All of these things certainly point to a connection in that direction, 
but this a mystery which we have little hope of solving completely. 

The Indians of Tidewater Virginia, like their relatives of Delaware, had 
no letters but resorted to a sort of hieroglyphics to communicate otherwise 
than by word of mouth. This familiar kind of picture writing was performed 
on bark or wood, employing figures of animals, fish, birds, and other ob- 
jects."* Beverley's reference to their speech is somewhat obscure and should 
be quoted in full: 

Their Languages differ very much, as antiently in the several parts of 
Britain; so that Nations as a moderate distance do not understand one another. 
However, they have a sort of general Language, like what Lahontan calls the 
Algonkine, which is understood by the Chief Men of many Nations, as Latin 
is in most parts of Europe, and Lingua Franca quite thro the Levant. 

The general Language here us'd, is said to be that of the Occaneeches, tho 
they have been but a small Nation, ever since those parts were known to the 
English: but in what this Language may differ from that of the Algonkines, 
I am not able to determine. ^°* 

The Occaneechees, as previously noted, were of Siouan rather than Algonquian 
linguistic stock. Their principal seat was known to the English as Occaneechee 
Island, in the Roanoke River at the present Virginia-North Carolina border, 
on the southwest trail from the falls of the Appomattox (where Petersburg 
now is) . There they carried on extensive trading operations as middlemen 
between the English and the Iroquoian peoples to the southwest."" In fact, 
as late as 1735, a map shows "Aconeche I." on the Maratock (Roanoke) 
River, and in 1752 another map shows an Indian town of Aconeechy — 
probably incorrectly — on the Neuse River; these were, of course, maps of 
the Carolinas/" The fact that the Occaneechees were traders may account 
for the use of their language as a means of communication between English 
and Iroquoian, Siouan and Algonquian. However, as Beverley pointed out, it 
would not have been understood by the common people, but only by the 
chief men. 

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, and more especially in 
the last fifty years, much research has been done in the North American 
Indians languages in general and in the Algonquin linguistic stock in par- 

Va. 3 


ticular. Owing to very recent advances in the sciences of linguistics, much has 
been learned of the characteristics of the Algonquian — and other — dialects, 
whereby they differ so profoundly from our ideas and concepts gained almost 
entirely from study of the Classical Languages and the Western European 
Languages; for example, in phonetics, the vague, indistinct, and whispered 
vowels, the consonants with indeterminate point of articulation; and in syntax, 
agglutination or the extensive use of prefix, suffix, and infix, the inclusive, 
exclusive, possessive, locative, and fourth person inflexion, plus many other 
concepts unknown in our grammatical system. "- 

However, since the Algonquian speech has been extinct in this Tidewater 
coastal plain for well over a century at least, these considerations are purely 
academic and cannot enter into the present study. We are interested only 
in the language spoken by the aborigines of Tidewater Virginia at the time 
when the first explorers and settlers arrived; that is, in the late sixteenth 
and early seventeenth centuries. We are, therefore, dependent upon the early 
writers for our knowledge of that remote state of the language, and since 
they had absolutely no concept of the structure of the Indian languages, 
they are helpful only in the realm of vocabulary, of English equivalents for 
common words of the local Algonquian dialects. Even in this field the knowl- 
edge imparted is highly imperfect, since the first settlers were completely 
ignorant of the science of phonetics, and used in recording their linguistic 
observations a very inaccurate phonetic spelling which frequently produces 
confusing results."''* Be that as it may, the information to be gleaned from 
the writings of the early European visitors is of great value in determining 
the relationship among the aboriginal natives of the various parts of the 
Atlantic coast. 

The best contemporary sources of Indian speech are these: Arthur Barlowe 
(1584), Ralph Lane (1585-6), Thomas Hariot (1588), John Smith (1612), 
Gabriel Archer (1608), William Strachey (l6l6), and Robert Beverley 
(1705). All these names are familiar to the reader because of their mention 
elsewhere in these pages."* We should add another, who is not so well known 
but almost equally important: I refer to the Rev. Johannes Campanius (1601- 
1683), chaplain of the Colony of New Sweden, who translated the Lutheran 
catechism into what he called the "American-Virginian Language" for the 
purpose of converting the Delaware Indians to Christianity. "° Although, as 
will appear in the bibliography, this work was not published until 1696 
(thirteen years after his death), it was completed by 1656 and was based on 
labors performed during his stay on the Delaware from 1642 to 1648."'' 
Campanius was criticized by a recent writer for the use of the term "Amer- 
ican-Virginian" to refer to the language of the Delaware area."' In this he 
was only following the usage of his day, however; for, as it was pointed out 


in the previous chapter, the name Virginia was applied originally to all that 
part of North America claimed by England, and as grants were made to other 
colonies throughout the seventeenth century, their names served only to 
distinguish them as so many parts of Virginia."* 

One other source of information on the Indian language — so obvious that 
it is often overlooked — is to be found in the various editions of Webster's 
Dictionary. In making use of them it should be borne in mind, however, that 
Noah Webster was a New Englander, and that the large majority of words 
listed by him as Indian loan words in English are cited in their Massa- 
chuset, Natick or Narraganset form, which was frequently quite different 
from the Lenilenapi (Delaware), Powhatan or Renapoak (Old Virginia) 
forms. The use of the terms Lenilenapi and Renapoak will be explained below. 

Most authorities agree that the Indians of the Virginia coastal plain (and 
this includes what is now North Carolina) belonged to the Eastern Division 
(Central Sub-type) of the Algonquian family, and were the linguistic rela- 
tives of those in what is now Maryland and Delaware, and so on northward 
to New England "^ It is impossible for us to give an exhaustive study of 
this question in the limited space at our disposal, but examination of a list 
of a few words which are similar or cognate in this Atlantic coastal area 
will clearly demonstrate that this is true, (For purposes of simplicity, foot- 
notes have been eliminated almost entirely in this discussion, but the author- 
ities cited will be easily identifiable in the bibliography) 

a. Words common to the Roanoke and Jamestown areas: 

weroance (Lane) .This was the word for "chief" or "military 

uiroans (Hariot) commander," and often interpreted by the 

weroivance (Smith, Strachey, early colonists as "king." 

wyroans (Archer) 

pagatowr (Hariot) This was the word for "Indian corn," fre- 

pocuttatves (Strachey) quently used by Archer in combination with 

pegatewk (Archer) the word for bread, thus: pegatewk-apyan, 

to indicate "bread made from Indian corn." 

(see below) 

b. Words common to the Roanoke and Delaware areas: 

renapoak (Lane) Lane said of Renapoak, "for so they call by 

crenepo (Lane) that general name all the inhabitants of the 

rhentis (Campanius) whole main [land] of what province so- 

reiiappi (Campanius) ever."'-** Campanius gives rbenus for "man" 

lenilenapi (Collijn, Holmer) and renappi for "mankind"; both are clearly 

of the same stem, and were combined to 


make the proper name Lenilenapi*, which the Indians called themselves, not only 
in Delaware but also on up to the Hudson River. The connection of creiiepo is 
somewhat less certain; it has been heretofore interpreted as "woman" by some 
authorities,i2i although in the way it is used by Lane it could be intended for 
"man": he stated that the Indians, fearing an attack by the English, "abandoned 
their towns along the river, and retired themselves with their crenepos and their 
corn . . ." 

c. Words common to the Jamestown, Delaware and New England areas: 

wiroanausqua (Strachey) The word for "woman," squaw, has become 

aquaeo (Campanius) current in modern English usage; it has been 

eshqua Mass. T found in the early Virginia writers only in 

squall' Narrag. I (Webster) the combined form meaning "woman chief" 

ochqueu Del. J or "queen." It occurs in practically all the 

Algonquian dialects which survive today: 
Cree iskweu, Micmac eskira, Fox and Shawnee ikwawa, Chippewa ikivd, etc.^^ 

apyaij (Archer) This was the word for "bread" (made of 

appoans (Strachey) Indian corn meal and unsalted) which still 

oppone, pone (Beverley) survives in the Southern States as "corn- 

poon (Campanius) pone." The form pom, quoted in Campanius 

poru (Penn) from William Penn, is another example of 

potie (Webster) the confusion between r and ii. 

tomahawk (Beverley) This is the word for "hand axe," still cur- 

tamahkkan (Campanius) rent with us today. 

tomehagen Algon. ~| 
tummahegan Moheg. I (Webster) 
tamoihecan Del. 

wigtvang (Beverley) This is the word for "dwelling," still cur- 

wickomen (Campanius) rent in English as w'igivam, though actually 

wecouomut Mass. (Webster) it is a possessive-locative meaning "in his 

house or tent." A variant is wlkiup. 

moccasin (Beverley) Beverley said this was a shoe made of buck- 

makisin (Webster) skin, but what of Campanius' "mackh-hads" 

meaning "bearskin"? Campanius does not 
give a word for shoe; Webster derived his etymology from Algonquian, but did 
not specify which dialect. 

* A word should be said here about the use of the consonant r by the early writers instead 
of /. It has been said that r does not exist in Algonquian, but this seems to be a rather exagger- 
ated statement ; it would be more exact to say that the sound recorded by some as r and others as / 
actually represents an intermediate sound between the two. Thus, we have renapoak, rhenus and 
reiiappi beside lenilenape; thus also the word for "star" is aranck in Campanius, but allanqua in 
modern Delaware, alangna in Peoria, and al.igwa in Shawnee; and the word for "dog," arum in 
Campanius and alliim in modern Delaware.^-- Nor is this confusion of r confined to /, but it is 
also sometimes seen as « and /.• e.g., in addition to the W'ords for "star" given above, there are also 
the Chippewa anang. Fox anagwa, and Natick anogks, as well as the Cree atik; and beside the 
words for "dog" above, there are also the Natick aniim and Cree atim. This will explain the early 
spelling Orancock for Onancock in Accomack County,^-^ and the existence of Tappahannock (town) 
beside Rappahannock (river) still in use today. The letter r is even sometimes confused with a 
velar consonant (c, g, k) as well as the dentals mentioned above: thus Matoar beside Matoaka,'^ 
another name for Pocahontas; and pagatowr beside pegatewk as noted above. This might even 
explain crenepo, with the c and r occurring side by side. 


homony (Beverley) This word is still current in the South in the 

auhuminea (Webster) form hominy. Beverley also gives the form 

rockahomony, which he said was finer; we 
may wonder whether this may have been what we in the South called "hominy 
grits" a generation ago, now more generally known as "grits." 

squash (Beverley) While Beverley knew this word and quoted 

asquash, plu. of aiq (Webster) it, he knew also it was not native to Vir- 

ginia, for he said it was used by the northern 
Indians of New York and New England for niacock, a small variety of pumpkin. 
According to Webster, the word was applied to any raw, green fruit or vegetable. 
Beverley gave an alternate, squantersqiiash, which we have never seen elsewhere. 
Campanius gives for "pumpkin" schtintach (pronounce sktmtack), and adding the 
common plural suffix, we have schuntachti'ats which could easily be a cognate for 
Beverley's word. 

wampom (Beverley) It will be recalled that Beverley distin- 

wompi Mass.) fYC'ebster'l guished between wampom peak and white 

wape Del. ^ '' peak.^^^ In this he was mistaken and Web- 

ster indicated correctly that wampum was 
derived from words meaning "white," the color of the beads that the term applied 
to, whereas the purple variety was called suckanhock, a word that has not been 
observed in Virginia sources. This is confirmed by Campanius, who gave the vari- 
ous spellings wope, woope and wopack, and by some more recent observations: 
Natick wompi, Chippewa wabi, Fox wapi, Cheyenne woxpi, all of which mean 
"white." Compare also Campanius' wdpiik cahaak, "wild goose," with Pennacook 
wohtigiia; this must refer to the snow goose, since the wild goose familiar to us 
is the Canada or gray goose. And may there not be a connection between Cam- 
panius' cahaak and Beverley's cohonk, already mentioned ? 

Finally we shall mention two terms which seem to be common to much 
of the Atlantic coast, though used most frequently in combined forms. They 
are the words for "land" and "river." The word for "land," still current 
in Cree aski and Fox acki^"^' is pointed out by one authority as appearing in 
combination as the suffix -ack or -ock, to which I shall also add -ask. The 
variants on this theme are legion, and we can certainly recognize it in 
Roanoke, Hatorask, Dasamonquepeuc, Pasquenoke, Weapemeoc, Chawanook, 
Mangoack, Renapoak, Chesapeake, Warrascoyack, Weyanoke; and probably 
in Chincoteague, Assateague, Patchogue, and Montauk; these are just a few 
of the proper names containing the term. It should be mentioned also that 
Campanius gives hacking, really a locative, "on earth," in his translation of 
the Lord's Prayer. 

As for the word for "river," its occurrence is not quite so frequent but 
just as prominent. Barlowe called the Currituck Sound Cipo. which he said 
was a "great river " emptying into the Occam River (Roanoke River plus 
Albemarle Sound). ^"* Campanius gave sippussing for "stream," probably a 
locative. Chesapeake has been etymologized K'che "chief," sepi "river," ack, 


"land," i. e., "land on a chief or principal river."'" It may be purely coin- 
cidental, but it will be recalled that the Rivero map of 1529 showed Rw del 
Principe (Prince's River) in this locality,'-* so Chesapeake could mean "land 
on the Prince's River;" however, it is extremely difficult to pm-point the 
exact location of some of these old names. It should be pointed out that 
"river" is used in a very broad sense and not with our present meaning of a 
"running stream" or current. Incidentally, it is to be noted in passing that 
Mississippi contains the same root and is said to mean "big water or river."'"*® 

Though it was stated previously that Indian etymologies are doubtful at 
best, we cannot resist offering two of our own. It has been said that what the 
Indians called the Occam River included Roanoke River, Albemarle Sound, 
and turned south on both sides of Roanoke Island emptying into Pamlico 
Sound;'''''' so that Roanoac (as the 1585 map has it) was really the land or 
island at the Occam River's mouth. Campanius gives toaii (phonetic) for 
"mouth" (cf. note on occasional confusion of r and /.p. ), and we have 
already discussed the suffix for "land." It must be admitted that it is not 
known that the Indians used our figurative concept of "mouth" for the lower 
terminus of a river. Our other etymology is for Hatorask, on the 1585 map the 
inlet opposite the south end of Roanoke Island (the name surviving, of course, 
in Cape Hatteras in a different location). Campanius gave hattog for "tree," 
which may also be detected in modern Delaware niehittuck and Natick 
mehtug. (Cf. note on occasional confusion of /■ and g, p. ) If we look at 
the 1585 map, we can see that this was really a "land of trees." But so also 
were Weapemeoc, Secotan, and Roanoke! 

Incidentally, mention was made of Tanxpowhatan (also known as Para- 
hunt), son of the great chief, and it has been stated by many sources that 
his name meant "Little Powhatan."'^' This is supported by Campanius' word 
for "little," tanketitt (the suffix being diminutive). It should be noted that 
tanx- was frequently written incorrectly tank- or taux- by the early writers. 

Also incidentally, let us mention Skicoak, the important Indian settlement 
on the approximate site of Norfolk, here before 1584. The Chawanook chief, 
Menatonon, had a son named Skyco, according to Lane,'^" so Skicoak could 
mean "land owned or ruled by Skyco." We know that Skyco was a mere 
youth in 1586, and that Skicoak had been there many years then. May it not 
derive its name from an older former chieftain, whose namesake Skyco was 

It would be a fascinating pastime to continue these linguistic speculations, 
and we could mention many more examples of affinity between the Tidewater 
Indians and their Atlantic coastal neighbors to the north. However, it is be- 
lieved that we have sufficiently demonstrated the linguistic kinship of the 
aborigines of Old and New Virginia with those to the north of them. So we 


shall regretfully leave these considerations and pass on to more pertinent 

Not only were there linguistic similarities between the Tidewater Algon- 
quians and those of the Atlantic coast north of Virginia, but also their primary 
cultural affiliation lay in that direction, howbeit with some small south- 
eastern influence/^^ An unbroken chain of Algonquian tribes linked the 
Virginia Indians northerly to the mouth of the Saint Lawrence and thence 
westerly to the vast territory adjacent to the Great Lakes, occupied by tribes 
of this stock in the early seventeenth century. This fact, together with the 
absence of Algonquian tribes to the west and south of the Old and New 
Virginia area, certainly bears out the theory that the Virginia Algonquians 
came from the north in a later phase of the migration of the tribes of 
Algonquian stock from their primitive home between the Great Lakes and 
Hudson Bay toward the west, east and south. '^^ Just when they arrived in the 
Virginia coastal plain is a question which must be answered by the archae- 
ologists, and the present state of archaeological research makes it impossible 
even to guess at a time; probability does not point to a period far removed 
from the arrival of Columbus, ^^"^ say in the early days of the fifteenth century. 

And speaking of archaeology, such activity in the Tidewater section has 
been (with very few exceptions) left in the hands of amateurs or, at best, 
semi-professionals, and has been limited almost entirely to the finding (fre- 
quently accidental) of Indian artifacts and burial sites. For example various 
kinds of stone weapon heads (axe, spear and arrow) and pottery have been 
found on the site of Kecoughtan (Hampton), in Southampton County, and 
in Princess Anne (Cape Henry and Lake Joyce). '■^'' The Lake Joyce site, 
excavated by Mr. Floyd Painter under the sponsorship of the Norfolk Museum, 
is of special interest, since it is almost precisely on the site of the Chesapeake 
Indian village of Apasus, shown on the Lane map of 1585. The Kecoughtan 
site also is important, as it indicates the possible location of this ancient 
settlement, probably the oldest continuously occupied spot in British America 
today.'^^ Mr. Painter has also unearthed an Indian burial site in the Old 
Virginia area, which has been tentatively identified with the village of 
Waratan (shown on the 1585 map), in what is now North Carolina some 
distance north of Edenton on the Chowan River. An exhibit reconstructed 
from this find is on display in the Norfolk Museum."* Another interesting 
find, also made by Mr_ Painter, is a large cooking pot reconstructed from 
fragments found in Warwick. This utensil has been assigned to the so-called 
Late Woodland Culture period (1200-1700), and the site is said to have 
been only a temporary stopping place for hunting parties ;''*' as a matter of 
fact, no Indian village was shown in the Warwick neighborhood on the 
Smith map of 1612. 

During the Jamestown Exposition (1907), one of the interesting sights 


was the "Powhatan Oak," traditionally transplanted from near Jamestown."** 
This tradition was apparently wishful thinking by some promotional expert, 
for, when the tree became diseased and had to be removed in 1923, the skeletal 
remains of five adult humans were found beneath its roots. These bones were 
identified by Navy medical officers, I know not with what degree of cer- 
tainty, as American Indian and probably early seventeenth century. The late 
Admiral Hugh Rodman, then Commandant Fifth Naval District, had them 
reinterred on the same spot in a common coffin bearing an appropriate iden- 
tifying plate, and tliere they remain to this day as far as I know."^ 

A fair number of descendants or representatives of tribes of the Powhatan 
confederacy still live in Virginia today, although there has naturally been 
considerable intermingling with other races and many years have passed 
since they lost their Algonquian speech. The State maintains two reservations, 
both located in King William County, for the Pamunkey and Mattaponi 
Indians and situated on the two rivers so named. There is a strong prob- 
ability that the latter is a branch of the former, rather than the descendant of 
the MattapoU (Mattapament) tribe mentioned by the early writers. These 
two tribes are each governed by an elected chief and council. The Pamunkey 
Reservation is the larger of the two, containing some three hundred acres 
of arable land (with a greater area in swamp), and inhabited by about one 
hundred and fifty people. The Mattaponi has eighty acres and about seventy- 
five people."* Of the non-reservation Indians, the largest group is the 
Chickahominy tribe chiefly in Charles City County, which formed a tribal 
organization in 1908, and in 1923 had 264 members out of a possible five 
hundred. There are also the Rappahannock tribe organized in 1921 with 
376 members, a group of 150 Potomacs, and several small isolated groups 
in York and Gloucester Counties and on the Eastern Shore (Northampton 
and Accomack Counties). In the Lower Tidewater area there is only one such 
group known to exist, and it is composed of descendants of the Nandsamund 
tribe, living in the Dismal Swamp area of Nansemond County; here a tribal 
organization was formed in 1923, with only fifty-eight out of a possible 200 
individuals participating.^*^ 

Recently a series of articles was published in a local newspaper on the 
Pamunkey and Mattaponi Reservation Indians, chiefly dealing with their 
social problems arising from matters of racial discrimination. It is indeed a 
paradoxical situation, as the author of these articles points out, that some 
Virginians of exalted social standing set much store by their descent from 
Mistress John Rolfe (nee Pocahontas), while other descendants of her father's 
subjects lead a life which is both socially and educationally segregated.-'*'' 

I can think of no more appropriate way to end these considerations con- 
cerning the aborigines of Tidewater Virginia than by quoting a part of the 
last paragraph of Book III of Beverley's History: 


Thus I have given a succinct account of the Indians; happy, I think, in 
their simple State of Nature, and in their enjoyment of Plenty, without the 
Curse of Labour. They have on several accounts reason to lament the arrival 
of the Europeans, by whose means they seem to have lost their Felicity, as 
well as their Innocence. The English have taken away a great part of their 
Country, and consequently made everything less plenty amongst them. They 
have introduc'd Drunkenness and Luxury amongst them, which have multi- 
plied their Wants, and put them upon desiring a thousand things, they have 
never dreamt of before ... I shall in the next place proceed to treat of Vir- 
ginia, as it is now improv'd (I should rather say alter'd) by the English . . .^■"' 

Notes on Chapter II 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I. 

1. Swain, "The Chesapeake Bay," in Clark, Eastern Shore, I, 5; Lefler, North Carolina, I, 

2. See note 7, Chapter I. 

3. Quoted in Sams, The First Attempt, pp. 59-80. 

4. Ibid., pp. 74-77. 

5. Ibid., p. 65. 

6. Ibid., pp. 65, 71. 

7. Ibid., p. 74. 

8. See note 18, below. 

9. Sams, op. cit., p. 75. 
10. Ibid., pp. 77-78. 

11 See note 126, below. 

12. Sams, op. cit., pp. 75-76. 

13. Jbid., p. 76. 

14. Ibid., pp. 161-211, here quoted in its entirety. 

15. Hariot, A brief e and true report. 

16. Sams, op. cit., p. 172. 

17. Ibid., p. 163. 

18. Ibid., p. 167. 

19. Beverley, History of Virginia, p. 19. 

20. See note 112, below. 

21. Mook, "Anthropological," p. 37, and footnotes; DeBry took many liberties in reproducing 
White's drawings and maps, and the originals should always be consulted. Mook tells where 
they are available. 

21a. Sams, op. cit., p. 165. 

22. Ibid., pp. 120-121. 

23. Ibid., p. 172. 

24. Ibid., p. 173. 

25. Ibid., p. 172. 

26. Ibid., p. 197 ; see also note 64, below. 

27. Ibid., p. 186. 

28. See note 120, below. 

29. Quoted in Sams, The First Attempt, pp. 242-268. 

30. Ibid., p. 259. 

31. Ibid., p. 81. 

32. Ibid., p. 508. 

33. Ibid., pp. 229-230. 

34. Ibid., p. 122. 

35. Mook, "Virginia Ethnology." 

36. Mook, "Tindall's Map." 


37. Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," p. 103 and footnote. 

38. Mook, "Tindall's Map," passim. 

39. Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," pp. 125-126. 

40. Swain, op. cil., p. 3 ; a later version of the 1612 map. 

41. Mook, "Tindall's Map," p. 377. 

42. See note 141, below. 

43. Mook, "Tindall's Map," pp. 379, 403-405. 

44. Ibid., p. 390. 

45. Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," p. 116. 

46. Ibid., p. 126. 

47. loc. cit. 

48. See notes 53 and 54, below. 

49. Mook, "Tindall's Map," p. 407. 

50. Beverley, op. cit., p. 45. 

51. Sams, The Second Attempt, passim (see index). 

52. Mook, "Tindall's Map," p. 406 and footnote. 

53. Ibid., p. 379; see also Sams, op. cit., p. 404a (map). 

54. The identification of this site by Mook and Sams has been questioned by at least one other 
source: see Bagby, '"Werowocomico" [sic]. 

55. Mook, "Tindall's Map, " p. 406 and footnote, 

56. See Chapter XXXI. 

57. Sams, op. cit., p. 590. 

58. DNB, XVII, 158; the legend on the original de Passe engraving showed that the lady was 
wife of "Mr. Job: Rolff," this being the usual abbreviation for "Johannes" or John. Later 
reproductions, on account of the similarity of J and T, mistakenly showed "Tho:" for 
"Joh:" and this is the origin of the statement that Pocahontas was wife of Thomas Rolf; 
even the record of her death at Gravesend in the vestry book of St. George's (St. Thomas) 
Church has apparently so misinterpreted, though I have never seen the original or a photostat 
of it. Actually, Thomas Rolf was her son. See also Sams, The Third Attempt, pp. 199-200, 
and Pageant of America, I, 186. 

59. Beverley, op. cit., p. 45. 

60. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 133-134. 

61. Ibid., pp. 326-327. 

62. Ibid., pp. 427, 487. 

63. Mook, "'Tindall's Map," p. 384; Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," p. 116. 

64. Sams, The First Attempt, pp. 195, 197 and footnote. 

65. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 120-121. 

66. See note 62, above. 

67. Mook, "Anthropological," p. 28. 

68. See note 16, above. 

69. Mook, "Tindall's Map," p. 383. 

70. Hugh Jones, Virginia, p. 147 (editor's note). 

71. Wertenbaker, Torchbe.irer, pp. 93-94. 

72. Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," p. 114. 

73. HAI (BAE, B30, 1907), I, 38, article on Algonquian. 

74. See note 10, above. 

75. Enc. Brit., I, 811. 

76. Ibid., XIV, 454. 

77. See note 73, above. 

78. Beverley, op. cit., p. 191 

79. See note 73, above. 

80. Loc. cit. 

81. Michelson, "Classification," p. 225. 
82 HAI (BAE, B30, 1907), I, 39. 

83. Beverley, op. cit., Introduction, pp. xiv-xv. 

84. Ibid., p. xvi. 

85. Ibid., pp. 159-233, p.jssim; verbatim quotations in this section are also referenced. 

86. Ibtd.. p. 166. 

87. Ibid., p. 178. 

88. Ibid., p. 182. 

89. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 128-129. 


90. Beverley, op. at., p. 171. 

91. Hugh Jones, ofi. at., p. 59- 

92. Beverley, op. cil., p. 221. 
92a. McCrary, Indians, p. 46. 

93. Ibid., pp. 227-228. 

94. See note 125, below. 

95. Sams, The First Attempt, pp. 68, 70, 75, 167-168, 176-178; Sams, The Second Attempt, 
pp. 199, 216, 488, 557; Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," p. 112. 

96. Hugh Jones, op. cit., p. 164 (editor's note). 

97. Mook, op. cit., pp. 112-123 and footnote; Sams, op. cit., p. 514. 

98. DNB, XIX, 1072-1074. 

99. Beverley, op. cit., p. 126. 

100. See note 49, above. 

101. Mook, "Tindalls Map," p. 389. 

102. Beverley, op. cit., p. 45. 

103. Mook, op. cit., p. 394. 

104. Beverley, op. cit., p. 61. 

105. Hugh Jones, op. cit., p. 163 (editor's note). 

106. Sams, The Second Attempt, p. 352. 

107. Ibid., p. 192. 

108. Beverley, op. cit., p. 190. 

109. Beverley, op. cit., p. 191: the reference to Lahontan has been identified as Louis A. de 
LaHontan, writer of Netv Voyages to North-America (London, 1703) ; Beverley, op. cit., 
p. 354. 

110. Wertenbaker, op. cit., pp. 93-94. 

111. Herman Moll, "Carolina," (1735); Emanuel Bowen, "A New and Accurate Map of the 
Provinces of North and South Carolina . . ." (1752). These two maps are described, and 
the first reproduced, in an article by Paul A. Rockwell, "The Romance of Cartography," 
Asheville Citizen-Times. 8 March 1953; see also King, Pitt County, p. 18. 

112. Michelson, op. cit., passim: Holmer, Campanius, passim. 

113. Michelson, op. cit., p. 290; Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," p. 129; Mook, "Anthropological," 
p. 36. 

114. See Bibliography; for Barlowe and Lane, see also notes 3 and 14, above. 

115. Campanius, Ltithei^s Catechism. 

116. Collijn, Notes on Campanius, p. 4. 

117. Holmer, op. cit., pp. 9-10. 

118. See note 17, Chapter I. 

119. Michelson, op. cil.. p. 290; Mook, "Anthropological," p. 40. 

120. See note 27, above. 

121. Sams, The First Attempt, p. 174 and footnote. 

122. In this section on language, all modern Algonquian words are from Michelson, op. cit., 
passim, unless otherwise indicated. 

123. Hening, Statutes, III, 415-417. 

124. Sams, The Second Attempt, p. 167. 

125. Beverley, op. cit., pp. 227-228; see also notes 93 and 94, above. 

126. Sams, The First Attempt, p. 75. 

127. Swain, op. cit., pp. 2-4, quotes Dr. William Wallace Tooker. 

128. See note 7. Chapter I. 

129. Gleason, Linguistics, p. 367. 

130. Sams, op. cit., pp. 84-85. 

131. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 181, 665. 

132. See note 22, above. 

133. Mook, "Anthropological," p. 40. 

134. Enc. Brit.. XIV, 453. 

135. Mook, op. cit., p. 39. 

136. Brittingham, Kicotan: Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 1 Jan, 12 Feb, 13 Mar, 20 May, 24 Aug, 
26 Aug 1956. 

137. Brittingham, op. cit., pp. 10-11. 

138. Norfolk, 20 Aug 1956. 
'39. Ihid., 22 Oct 1956. 

I4n. Ihid.. 1 Nov 1936. 


141. As will appear in Chapter XXXII, the Exposition Grounds became the U.S. Naval Base, 
Norfolk, in 1917; the information on the exhumation and reburial of these remains was 
furnished by Mr. J. C. Pugh of the Fifth Naval District Public Works Office, who recently 
retired after 38 years of service in that activity. 

142. Hugh Jones, op. cit., p. 172 (editor's note) ; see also Opel, note 144, below. 

143. Hugh Jones, loc. cit. 

144. John Opel, "The First Virginians," Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 24-28 Sept 1956. 

145. Beverley, op. cit., p. 223. 

Chapter III 

THE ATLANTIC COASTAL area of the North American continent, 
of which the Virginia coastal plain is a part, first appeared on the 
scene of recorded history nine hundred and fifty-seven years ago. 
In order clearly to fix the chronological perspective, let it be noted that that 
was sixty-six years before the Norman conquest of England, and nearly five 
hundred years before Christopher Columbus landed on a minute island in 
the West Indies. 

The Norsemen or Vikings had become very active in raiding the coastal 
areas of Western Europe as early as the ninth century, and finally managed 
to secure, early in the tenth century, a foothold which was to become the 
duchy of Normandy — to which, incidentally, their name soon was attached. 
Next they turned their attention farther westward and colonized first Ice- 
land, then Greenland, finally arriving on the mainland of North America 
in A.D. 1000. 

The leader of this latter expedition was Leif Ericsson, and the details of 
his voyage are related in the early Norse sagas, which — it must be remem- 
bered — were as much literary invention as they were attempts to record his- 
torical facts. The land which Leif found he called Vinland because of the 
quantities of grapes which were growing there. The geographical description 
in the early narratives is not identifiable with any known coast, though it has 
been said with some probability that it may have applied to the area between 
the Saint Lawrence and Hudson Rivers. Archaeologists have thought to rec- 
ognize as Viking also the ruins on the coast of Labrador at fifty-six degrees 
of north latitude, but the stories of Viking penetration to the Great Lakes 
region are looked upon with a certain amount of skepticism. One thing can 
be said with a fair amount of certainty: they did not visit the middle At- 
lantic coast.^ 

After the Norsemen, there were apparently no recorded attempts to reach 
North America until John Cabot arrived on the scene. Cabot first arrived in 
London in 1484, full of ideas for discovering a short route to Asia by way 
of the Western Ocean. He was able to win the support of a group of 


Bristol merchants, and several unsuccessful expeditions were actually sent 
out before news was received in 1493 of the feat of Columbus the previous 
year. Another four years were to go by before Cabot sailed from Bristol on 
the voyage which reached land in the Western Hemisphere, probably New- 
foundland or Cape Breton Island, on Saint John the Baptist Day, 24 June 
1497. In May of 1498 he set out on what was to be his last voyage. At this 
time, he touched at Greenland, Baffin Land, Newfoundland, and coasted 
from the present Nova Scotia and New England in a southerly direction. 
Authorities do not agree as to how far south Cabot followed the Atlantic 
coast. One source states that he sailed no further than the thirty-eighth parallel 
(the present coastal boundary between Virginia and Maryland) before turn- 
ing back; another has him continuing down to the Florida coast. It is not 
likely, as has been claimed, that he crossed paths with Amerigo Vespucci or 
that he entered Chesapeake Bay, but if it is true that he reached the coast 
of the land later named for the "Pascua Florida," then Cabot was the first 
white man to view the shores of Tidewater Virginia — and this in 1498, 
nearly four hundred and sixty years ago." 

The oldest post-Columbian map of the Atlantic coast is that attributed 
to Juan de la Cosa and dated in 1500. While the places it shows on the coast 
are not recognizable, we find at that time, just two years after Cabot's voyage, 
the confirmation of some previous assumptions. On this map, the ocean from 
Nova Scotia southward was labeled "Mar descubierta por Yngleses" (sea 
explored by the English), showing that even the Spaniards conceded its dis- 
covery to Cabot. Likewise there were place-names farther north — not pre- 
cisely identifiable as to location — which suggest an English connection; for 
example, "Cabo de Ynglaterra" and "Cabo de San Jorge."^ 

Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine mariner in the service of the French 
king, Francis I, is credited with being the first European really to explore 
and describe our Middle Atlantic Coast, where his predecessors had merely 
sailed past. Sailing in his ship the Dauphin from Madeira in January of 
1524, Verrazzano arrived two months later on this coast in thirty-four degrees 
of north latitude, followed the coast to Newfoundland, and returned to 
France in July. During his voyage he stopped on several occasions to send 
exploring parties ashore to bring back information on the land and its in- 
habitants. Such landings occurred in the region north of Cape Fear in present 
North Carolina and near the Island of Chincoteague at the present Virginia- 
Maryland coastal boundary, so Verrazzano sailed past our shores without 
entering Chesapeake Bay. He was so close, however, that parts of his descrip- 
tion of the land he saw may well apply to Lower Tidewater, as was noted in 
the previous chapter.'' 

One of the most important figures in the early history of our coast was 
Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, who came by appointment as a Judge of the 


Audiencia of Santo Domingo in 1502. He was interested in making a settle- 
ment on the North American mainland, and in 1523 obtamed a charter to 
that end from the Spanish king, Charles I (better known as Charles V, Holy 
Roman Emperor). After one or more preliminary reconnoitering expeditions, 
Ayllon set out from Hispaniola in July of 1526 at the head of a company 
of 500 prospective colonists, some negro slaves and some horses. They en- 
tered a river which they called "Rio Jordan," which some authorities have 
identified as the present Cape Fear River, both from its description and from 
the fact that recorded its latitude as 33%°, not always an accurate criterion 
at that date. In any case, many deaths from starvation and disease soon 
caused removal of the colony to a place which was christened San Miguel de 
Guadalpe. However, starvation and disease continued to take their toll, 
Ayllon himself died in October of 1526, and the colony was abandoned two 
months later, less than one third of the original number surviving to regain 

Even though it is probable that neither the preliminary reconnoitering 
expedition of 1521 nor Ayllon himself entered the Chesapeake, his colony 
had a profound influence on map-makers of subsequent years. The first evi- 
dence of this is the so-called "Padron General," the official Spanish colonial 
map of 1527, which has only one principal legend between Florida and 
present Cape May, and that is "tierra del licen^iado ayllon" (Judge Ayllon's 
Land). On the Diego de Rivero map of 1529, mentioned in previous chapters, 
the legend is much fuller though the coastal outline as drawn here still shows 
very imperfect knowledge. A small section of this early map would be 
sufficient to show the Middle Atlantic coast in relation to other known 
localities. One of the first things the early mariners learned about practical 
navigation was how to determine north latitude by observation of Polaris, 
and this they did with a small margin of error (sometimes as much as 2°). 
Knowing the latitude of Bermuda and the Tropic of Cancer (respectively 
32°20' and 23°28'), we constructed a scale with which to measure the 
latitude of the other localities shown on the coast. Here are the names shown 
on the Atlantic coast of this map (Florida excepted) from north to south 
with the latitudes of those significant to our story: 

C de arenas 39^2 

R de stiago [Santiago] 

C de s Juan 


b de S ma [Bahia de Santa Maria] 35% 

R dl espu sto [Rio del Espiritu Santo] 35 

C traffalgar 34 

R del pcipe [Rio del Principe] 331/2 

C de S roma [San Roman] 321/2 

R Jordan 31% 


S elena 3II/2 

C de S elena 30^ 

C gruesso 
mar baxa 

It must be pointed out that the deciphering of these names has been greatly 
facilitated by another clearer version of the map. Most of the features shown 
here (capes, rivers, bays) are obvious, but some of the abbreviations have 
been written out. The Cabo de Arenas corresponds very closely with Gomara's 
39° in 1552. The Bahia de Santa Maria, which has been with certainty 
identified with the Chesapeake (see below), is nearly 2° away from its real 
latitude. The Cabo de San Roman, certainly the present Cape Romain in South 
Carolina, is only 1^^° off, while the two indications of Santa Elena, a name 
surviving in Saint Helena Sound and Island at about 32°30', are nearly 2° 
short. It is to be noted also that Rw ]ordan here is 2° below where Ay lion's 
pilot recorded it, and being between San Roman and Santa Elena, would 
place Ayllon's first location right at Charleston. Of especial, if passing, in- 
terest on this map is Cape Trafalgar, named after a Spanish headland which 
was to become famous many years later; this label was placed on what we 
now call Cape Lookout (in North Carolina) on a Dutch map of 1655, to 
be mentioned below. Mention was made above and in Chapter I of Francisco 
Lopez de Gomara and his description of the coast in 1552. He gave latitudes 
of some of the places he mentioned, for instance Cabo de Santa Elena at 
32° much closer to its correct location, Wio Jordan immediately next on the 
north, and Cabo de Arenas at 39°, closely corresponding with Rivero. Some 
have identified the latter with one of the Delaware capes (May or Henlopen) 
because of the latitude, but its name rather suggests Sandy Hook (^arenas 
meaning "sands") ; likewise, when the possible discrepancy in latitude, men- 
tioned above, is considered, this cape might be Sandy Hook, Montauk Point 
or even Cape Cod — but this is for us purely academic. The accuracy of 
Gomara's latitudes is shown by his mention of two localities not given by 
Rivero: Piaita de la Florida at 25°, very close to the actual latitude (25°15') 
of the southern tip of Florida; and Piinta de Canaveral at 28°, only slightly 
less than the real latitude (28° 30') of Cape Canaveral.*' 

As was pointed out above, the maps of 1527 and 1529 greatly influenced 
later ones. For example, let us mention three French maps: one of 1542 
showing "B. de Se. Marie" (St. Mary's Bay) at 3614°, flanked by "R. de Sal" 
and "R. de S. Esprit"; one of 1546 showing "B. de St. Marie" at 35°; and 
one of 1547 showing "B. Ste. Marie" at 37° with "Rio Salado" to its north. 
This Bay of Saint Mary, shown imperfectly by Rivero, was evidently intended 
for a sort of gulf into which flowed two large streams, one from the north 
and the other from the west; the first, called "Rio Salado" (salty river) was 
the upper Chesapeake Bay, and the other, "Rio del Espiritu Santo" (River 


of the Holy Ghost) was the James. It is of added interest that William 
Strachey of Jamestown knew as late as 1616 that the Spaniards called 
Chesapeake Bay "Sante Maria" [sic].^ 

An Englishman in the service of the Spaniards much later (1559) testified 
before the Viceroy that he had been on this coast in 1546. He is identified 
simply as John of Bristol and stated that, being then ten years of age and 
a cabin boy, he was on a ship which by stormy weather was forced aland 
on the coast of Florida in 37° north latitude. There they found a good bay 
and anchorage, where the ship remained two days trading with the natives. 
It then proceeded down the coast to 33° which he believed was the Punta 
de Santa Elena. It has not been possible to identify this ship, nor can we say 
what was the party that was shipwrecked at present Ocracoke in 1558, ac- 
cording to what the Indians told Barlowe twenty-six years later.* 

This brings us to the intriguing story of the Spanish attempts to colonize 
and Christianize the Chesapeake Bay area. They had been for some time advanc- 
ing northward from the Florida peninsula, and had established presidios and 
missions at Santa Elena (Saint Helena Island, South Carolina), at Santa 
Catalina de Guale (Saint Catherine's Island, George) and at San Jose de 
Zapala (Sapelo Island, Georgia). Until a few years ago, writers on the sub- 
ject of the mission to the Chesapeake tried with inconclusive results to 
localize it somewhere in the upper Bay. However, recent research by Lewis 
and Loomie (see notes and bibliography) presents very convincing arguments 
centering the action in the Lower Tidewater area. Here is a brief account of 
the events leading up to the Spanish attempts to settle the Chesapeake: 

As early as 1558, Philip II of Spain, fearing French and English threats 
to the territory north of the Spanish-held portion of Florida, was determined 
to secure the Atlantic coast from "foreign" inroads. The Viceroy in Mexico, 
Don Luis de Velasco, was charged with this responsibility, and after an 
unsuccessful expedition failed to get farther than the west coast of Florida 
in 1559, another party was able to explore the Atlantic coast and reached the 
Chesapeake area in the summer of 1561. It is a question of debate whether 
this group actually entered the Bay, but in any case they picked up the son 
or brother (he could have been either) of a local chief and carried him back 
to Mexico. This Indian was converted, christened Don Luis de Velasco in 
honor of the Viceroy his godfather, and educated in order to assist in the 
conversion of his people. His native name has not been recorded and he is 
known to history only as Don Luis; he it was who apparently supplied 
the Spanish name for this northernmost Spanish province of Axacan, which 
was "a large province in Florida, 37° north of the equator and 170 leagues 
north of Santa Elena," according to a later account. In 1564 Pedro Menendez 
de Aviles was made successor to Ayllon's proprietorship, and after destroying 
the French settlement at Port Royal and founding Fort San Agustin (St. 

Va. 4 


Augustine) in 1565, he turned his attention farther north. In 1566 a company 
of soldiers, accompanied by two Dominican friars, was sent to the Bay of 
Santa Maria to establish a mission; the Indian Don Luis was their guide, 
but they were prevented from accomplishing their purpose by very stormy 

A little later the Jesuits became interested in this project, and Father 
Juan Bautista Segura, vice-provincial of the Society, with some other priests 
and novices came to Florida. On 5 August 1570, Segura and four other 
priests and as many novices set sail from Santa Elena — Don Luis was again 
the guide. The pilot had to feel his way slowly up the unfamiliar coast and 
on 10 September, over a month later, they arrived at Don Luis's homeland, 
which they now called the Bah'ia de Madve de Dios de Axacd>i. They entered 
the bay, followed its south shore a distance of three leagues, and then crossed 
over to a point two leagues in a northwesterly direction. Here they went 
ashore and said mass, probably the first Christian rite performed on these 
shores. They then proceeded up a wide river about twelve leagues, ascended 
a narrow creek for three leagues, went two leagues overland to another river 
on which they stopped and built a crude shelter for their mission chapel. The 
authors whose account we are following have presented convincing arguments 
to show that the first mass was said on Newport News Point, and that the 
company went from there up the James, up College Creek, across the site 
of Williamsburg to the York, and built the chapel at the mouth of King's 
Creek, a few miles above Yorktown; they admit, however, that the discovery 
of fresh documentary evidence might well cause a revision of this theory. 
In any case, the mission did not long survive. The savage Don Luis soon 
deserted the Jesuits; he returned after five months with others of his kind 
and, between 4 and 9 February 1571, murdered all the company but one 
novice who escaped to tell the story. The Indians buried the murdered Jesuits 
in the chapel and burned it. The following spring an expedition intended for 
the supply and relief of the mission failed to find Don Luis, but did capture 
two Indians from whom it was learned that the priests and novices had been 
killed, with the exception of the novice Alonso who was strangely enough 
being harbored by some Indians. In August 1572, a punitive expedition was 
sent against the savages headed by the adelautiido himself, Pedro Menendez 
de Aviles. At this time Alonso was liberated, Don Luis disappeared, and 
eight Indians were taken as hostages. The latter were given religious in- 
struction and were reportedly converted; they were then tried for complicity 
on the murder of the Jesuits, and three or four of them were executed by 
hanging. It is notable that Menendez held this trial as a magistrate acting in 
his own territory, showing that the Spaniards considered Axacan a part of 

Some interesting theories have been advanced as to the identity of Don 


Luis and as to possible equivalents o£ Axacdn in the Bay area in later years. 
As to the former, Hamor wrote in 1615 that Powhatan's father was driven 
from the West Indies (which to him included Mexico) to Virginia, and it 
will be recalled that Beverley did not believe that Opechancanough was 
Powhatan's brother, as Smith said, but came from the southwest or Mexico. 
The Spanish accounts do not agree as to Don Luis's age, but the most plausible 
place him as born reasonably near the same time as Powhatan and Opechan- 
canough, between 1535 and 1545, in which case he could be their brother, 
whereas another less likely estimate gives him over fifty years in 1570, which 
would be about right for a father or uncle; all these relationships are men- 
tioned in the narratives. In all these theories it is noted that Powhatan was 
too naive to be Don Luis, and that Opechancanough is the more logical 
candidate. Another possibility suggests itself: Don Luis is said to have 
brought back an Indian servant from Mexico. Such a servant may well have 
become a foster-brother, which could have been the relationship between 
Powhatan and Opechancanough. One authority thinks the foundation of the 
Powhatan confederacy was laid as early as 1570, and speculates on the part 
Don Luis may have had in it. As to the identity of Axacan or Xacan 
(Ajacan or Jacan), we shall mention only one startling possibility. A map 
of 1672 shows "Shikcham" for "Chickahominy" in territory known to have 
been occupied by or adjacent to that tribe. It is pointed out that the letter ; 
of modern Spanish orthography was in the sixteenth century written usually x, 
and was pronounced not as it now is but as sh, as witness the English sherry 
(for Xerez, mod. Jerez) and the French Don Quichotte (for Don Quixote, 
mod. Quijote) . With this equivalent in mind, and remembering the frequent 
dropping and adding of prefix and suffix by the Indians, it is not beyond the 
realm of possibility that Axacan and Chickahominy may be identical.^" 

In 1573 the Spaniards made another voyage to the Bah'ia de Santa Maria, 
this time headed by Pedro Menendez Marques, nephew of the adelantado, 
Pedro Menendez de Aviles. His description tells of an entrance three leagues 
across, with a channel following a north northwesterly course, with an average 
depth on the south side of nine to thirteen fathoms and on the north side of 
five to seven fathoms. He said there were many rivers and harbors within the 
bay, and following the south channel he found up to sixteen fathoms depth, 
and in some places the lead came not to rest. This is a fairly accurate descrip- 
tion of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, which is actually about ten miles 
wide and follows more of a northwesterly to westerly course. A pilot chart 
of 1841 (chosen because it antedates any extensive dredging operations) 
showed nine to twelve fathoms off Cape Henry, four to six fathoms off Cape 
Charles, and up to sixteen fathoms in Hampton Roads between Rip Raps and 
Hampton Flats, a depth still to be found in that locality; the places with no 
recorded depth were evidently the result of exaggeration." 



Eleven years went by before the first of the expeditions undertaken under 
Raleigh's direction and at his expense. In telling of these voyages, it is in- 
tended here to relate only those details and circumstances directly connected 
with the Chesapeake Bay area, reserving a more complete narrative for another 
place. The patent which Queen Elizabeth granted to Raleigh on 25 March 


^ r-.-"^^ 


Z Kxru.xJU'K -re r»» 


1584 (New Year's Day, incidentally, by the Old Style Calendar) was in 
effect a renewal in his name of the similar one issued to his half-brother (Sir 
Humphrey Gilbert) six years earlier. Under its provisions two ships (whose 
names unfortunately we do not know) were fitted out and captained by 
Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe. Raleigh was joined in the financial 
support of this expedition by his cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, and others. 
The ships set sail from the west of England, probably Bideford in Devonshire, 
on 27 April 1584, and details of the voyage were set down in a report to 
Raleigh written by Barlowe, one of the captains, as has been previously 
noted. Following the then customary route by way of the Canary Islands and 
the West Indies — to take advantage of the trade winds — they made landfall 
on the fourth of July on the coast a little way north of Cape Fear, and con- 


tinued northward to an inlet which they entered, and which is identified with 
the present Ocracoke Inlet. Here they gave thanks for their safe arrival, and 
going ashore took possession of the land in the name of Queen Elizabeth. 
This act, we are told, was performed "according to the ceremonies used in 
such enterprises," so it is probable that a cross was set up at the place where 
they first landed — as was later done in 1607 at Cape Henry — to signify 
possession having been taken in the name of a Christian ruler. 

It was probably late July before they reached Roanoke Island, and we 
have detailed in the previous chapters the knowledge they gained concerning 
the natural resources, the natives and their provinces and rulers, particularly 
of the chief of the area, Wingina, and of his brother Granganimeo, sub-chief 
of Roanoke. Captain Barlowe stated that he and seven others went twenty 
miles up a river called Occam, which led toward the city of Skicoak. As it was 
previously noted, the Occam was the designation of the present Albemarle 
Sound and the Roanoke River, and since Skicoak was about where Norfolk 
now is, the river which led toward it may have been intended for either of 
two branches of the Occam, the river now called Chowan or the Currituck 

That was apparently the nearest approach any detachment of this 1584 
expedition made to Lower Tidewater. From Barlowe's account, however, it 
is evident that what he heard of Skicoak impressed him greatly. His informants 
had never been there, they said, having only heard of it from their fathers and 
other oldsters. They affirmed it was six days' journey away and was the 
greatest city in the area, taking more than an hour for a man to walk 
around it.^' 

The two ships which made the first voyage returned to England, arriving 
about the middle of September, 1584, having been away about four and a 
half months. Two Indians, Manteo and Wanchese, were brought back with 
them. In the Barlowe account, written shortly after they returned, appears 
one of the first occurrences of the name "Virginia." Beverley said that the 
Queen named the new land both for herself and "that it did still seem to 
retain the Virgin Purity and Plenty of first Creation, and the People their 
Primitive Innocence."'^ 

Raleigh's favor with the Queen was greatly enhanced by the results of 
this first voyage and the information which was brought back concerning the 
potentialities for colonization of the new land, and he received the honor 
of knighthood in January, 1584/5. A month earlier, while he was serving his 
native Devonshire in Parliament, his patent of March 1584 was ratified and 
confirmed by Act of that body; this occurred on 18 December 1584. The 
interest thus aroused spurred on the preparations which began early in 1585 
to send out a company to plant what was hoped would be a permanent colony. 
In view of its intended permanent character, its organization was somewhat 


more elaborate. Sir Richard Grenvilie, appointed by Raleigh "General of 
Virginia," was in command, assisted by Captain Ralph Lane, "Deputy General 
of Virginia," — who wrote the narrative of the trip — and Captain Philip 
Amadas, "Admiral of Virginia." In the company were two individuals who 
should be given special mention: Thomas Hariot, mathematician and scientist 
— and some say clergyman — and John White, artist; both of these have been 
previously mentioned. Manteo and Wanchese, the two natives brought back in 
the previous homeward voyage to England, were returned to their country at 
this time. The expedition departed from Plymouth on 9 April 1585 in seven 
ships: Tiger, Roe-Buck, Lion, Elizabeth and Dorothy, plus two unnamed 
pinnaces; it followed the customary southern route, and on 20 June made 
landfall on the coast of Florida. Three days later they passed a cape which 
Lane said was called "Cape of Fear;" this was probably the real Cape Fear, 
although (as previously indicated) Lane's map of 1585 shows Promontorium 
tremendum — the "fearful cape" — where the indication Cape Lookout is now 
used. Like the previous company, they anchored at Wokokon (Ocracoke) 
and after examining the inland waters (Pamlico Sound), proceeded up the 
coast to Hatorask (Oregon Inlet) and Roanoke Island, where they began to 
build their fort and town. On 25 August 1585, Sir Richard Grenvilie set sail 
for home in the Tiger, leaving the company in charge of his deputy, Ralph 
Lane. The latter's narrative of the colony was mentioned above, and we are 
interested in its details at this point only so far as it concerns the Lower 
Tidewater area. 

Upon their first arrival in the Roanoke area. Captain Amadas was sent 
on a mission on 2 August 1585 to Okisko, chief of Weapemeoc, the area be- 
tween Albemarle Sound and Chesapeake Bay. We are not told for what 
purpose he went, nor how far he traveled toward our bay, and it is doubtful 
that he reached Chesapeake country. Lane himself later went on an exploratory 
excursion in that direction in 1585 or 1586. He said that his farthest northerly 
exploration was to the "land of the Chesipeans," one hundred thirty miles 
from Roanoke by a dangerous and shallow passage. The seat of the Chesa- 
peake Indians, said Lane, was pleasant, of temperate climate, fertile soil, and 
convenient access to the sea. In their land were many bears, prized for their 
meat, and a heavy growth of sassafras and walnut trees. White's map of 
1585, indicates a lack of knowledge of the Chesapeake Bay area, though 
fairly accurate in the vicinity of Roanoke Island. Beverley stated that "they 
had extended their Discoveries near an Hundred Miles along the Sea-Coast 
Northward; but not reaching the Southern Cape of Chesapeake Bay [Cape 
Henry] in Virginia, they had as yet found no good Harbour." It is to be 
assumed, therefore, that Lane's reference to the "Chesipeans" means that he 
reached the village of Chesepiooc (near present London Bridge) but not 
the south shore of the Bay. This was confirmed later by Captain John Smith, 


who said that the land from Chawanook and Mangoack to Chesepiooc had 
formerly been explored by Lane and Harlot." 

A little later in his narrative, Lane told of information he received from 
Menatonon, chief of Chawanook, concerning the country to the north. This 
conversation took place in March 1586: Lane was told he could go three days' 
journey up the Chawanook (Chowan) River, thence overland in a north- 
easterly direction "to a certain King's country whose province lieth upon the 
sea, but his place of greatest strength is an island situate, as he [Menatonon] 
described it unto me [Lane], in a bay, the water round about the island 
very deep." It is impossible to identify this place with any known locality, 
but it will be recalled that Barlowe was told two years earlier that Skicoak 
was the most important settlement in that area; we have already seen that the 
site of Skicoak has been vaguely identified with the original site of Norfolk, 
which, incidentally, was almost an island. But there the similarity ceases, for 
there is no great depth of water there. 

It was claimed that this "King" or chief to the north had a great quantity 
of both white and black pearls, which he and his followers used for personal 
and household adornment. Menatonon gave Lane a rope of these pearls, 
which unfortunately he lost with his gear later while boarding Drake's vessel 
to return to England. Lane was so impressed with the accounts of the area in 
question that he decided that, failing a supply from England within a short 
time, he would move the whole colony there. His plan was to send a recon- 
noitering party by sea to attempt to find the entrance to the bay to the 
northward, while he took the main body of his available manpower in small 
boats up the Chawanook River and thence overland, as before mentioned. 
He further planned to build a series of small "sconces" or blockhouses, be- 
ginning at his place of landing up the river and continuing to the bay or 
port he was seeking. Then if he found the location advantageous, he intended 
to build a new main fort for the defense of the harbor and ships, and abandon 
Roanoke Island and the poor harbor there, moving the whole company to 
the new fort. 

This plan of Lane's to move to a more favorable spot — the Chesapeake 
Bay — came to nought, for he became involved at that time in difficulties 
with the natives, chiefly the fault of the chief Wingina, who now called him- 
self Pemisapan. It is not intended to go into detail at this time concerning the 
so-called "conspiracy of Pemisapan" which was instigated for the purpose 
of wiping out the foreign intruders by the concerted efforts of a loosely- 
formed confederacy. However, it is interesting to point out — as has already 
been done — that the Chesapeake Indians occupied a rather uncertain position 
in this conspiracy, in that they first seemed to be allied with the savages of 
■Weapemeoc and Mangoak against the English, whereas later Lane said the 
"Colonel of the Chesipeans" was with him when they were tracking down 


Pemisapan, and actually shot the latter, though not fatally. We are at a loss 
to understand this military title applied to the Indian leader, unless it was 
simply an English equivalent used for a leader subordinate to his tribal chief. 
It was suggested in the previous chapter that the Chesapeakes may have 
changed over to Lane's side when they realized Pemisapan's was a lost cause. ^^ 

Shortly after these events, Sir Francis Drake, fresh from his triumphs 
over the Spaniards at Cartagena and Saint Augustine, arrived off the coast of 
Old Virginia near Roanoke. It is of passing interest that in Drake's company 
were two young men who were to become prominent in the Virginia settle- 
ment after 1607; they were Captain John Martin and Lieutenant Thomas 
Gates, the former being commander of one of Drake's vessels. Having given 
up hope for the early arrival of a supply from England, Lane accepted 
Drake's offer to transport his colonists back home, and they set sail for 
Portsmouth on 19 June 1586, arriving at destination toward the end of the 
following month. Hardly had they left Roanoke, when a single ship — sent 
by Raleigh — arrived bearing all kinds of stores for the supply and relief of 
the colony. Finding the place abandoned, this ship returned forthwith to 
England. About three weeks later three more ships — also outfitted by Raleigh 
and commanded by Grenville — arrived with additional supplies. Likewise this 
expedition, finding no trace of the colony previously planted there by Gren- 
ville and left in Lane's charge, departed to return to England, but not without 
leaving a token garrison of fifteen men on Roanoke to retain possession of 
the country for the English Queen. Thus Raleigh's third and fourth expedi- 
tions were futile and accomplished practically nothing to help maintain the 
English claim to Virginia.^^ 

Until this time Raleigh had personally borne the larger part of the 
expense of the various expeditions sent by him to the New World. In order 
to lighten this burden, he deemed it advisable to attract other associates by 
relinquishing certain of his rights, before any further attempts were made 
toward a permanent settlement in Virginia. Accordingly, on 7 January 1586/7, 
he made a grant to Sir Thomas Smith and others of the privilege of free 
trade with his Colony of Virginia, and on the same date made a grant of 
governing rights to John White and twelve others, which was in effect a 
charter incorporating them as "the Governour and Assistants of the Cittie of 
Raleigh in Virginia," the assistants being a non-elective governing body or 
Council of State. Smith is mentioned especially here since he was to become 
first Treasurer (i. e., chief executive officer) of the Virginia Company in 
1606; White was he who had been with Ralph Lane and was the artist 
responsible for the maps of Old Virginia and pictures of its natives, as 
before brought out.^^ 

The company, thus organized with John White as its head, departed 
Portsmouth on 26 April 1587 — exactly twenty years before the first landing 


at Cape Henry — in a small squadron of three ships. This is the group which 
has become popularly known as the "Lost Colony" on account ot the mysteri- 
ous circumstances surroundmg its fateful disappearance, which will be recited 
later. The most interesting part of its story as far as we are here concerned 
is that the White colony was intended to be planted on Chesapeake Bay, 
probably somewhere within the area which we have designated as Lower 
Tidewater. But for a strange whim of fate, this second Roanoke Island colony 
might have been not the "Lost Colony," but the first permanent English 
settlement in the Western Hemisphere, as we shall see. 

The intended permanence of the White colony is made manifest by the 
fact that, unlike the colony under Lane, it included the wives and children 
of some of its members. It will be recalled also that Ralph Lane had made 
definite plans to move the first Roanoke colony to a locality which he said 
was northeast of Chowan River. It is a fact also that the younger Richard 
Hakluyt, prolific chronicler of the voyages of discovery, had advised Raleigh 
to make his next attempt to plant a colony on Chesapeake Bay. Hakluyt's 
advice was evidently based on what Lane had written and on what he 
(Hakluyt) had heard from others, for he had never been in these parts 
himself. Be that as it may, the little squadron bearing John White's company, 
following the usual southern route, arrived at Cape Fear on 16 July 1587, and 
six days later at Hatorask, the inlet opposite Roanoke Island. Here, according 
to White's narrative, he intended to go to Roanoke to seek the fifteen men 
left the previous year by Grenville, and then to pass on up the coast to 
Chesapeake Bay in accordance with the written instructions he had from Sir 
Walter Raleigh, where they were to build their "seat and fort." This plan 
was nullified because Simon Fernando, master of the principal vessel, refused 
to carry the colonists further and insisted on putting all hands ashore at 
Roanoke. Fernando had accompanied both Barlowe and Lane on the previous 
trips, and because of the above as well as some other troubles he caused, 
he has been accused by some writers of being a spy in the pay of the King 
of Spain. At any rate, none of the White group ever reached Chesapeake 
Bay, as far as we know, and here the reader is referred to a later chapter for 
the story of Governor White's granddaughter, Virginia Dare, of the Gov- 
ernor's return to England against his will, and of the disappearance of the 

During this same year of 1587, Pedro Menendez Marques made another 
voyage up the coast to look into the reported English settlement at Roanoke, 
but got no farther than Cape Hatteras. The following year this inquiry was 
resumed by Juan Menendez Marques, another nephew of the adelantado, in 
company with Vicente Gonzalez (who had been pilot on the voyages of 1570, 
1571, and 1572), and they actually reached the Chesapeake. The report of 
their findings placed the Bahia de Madre de Dios del ]acan at 37° north 


latitude, and its description corresponds almost exactly with that given by 
Juan's cousin Pedro in 1573. It is to be noted here that the Spanish names 
Santa Maria and Madre de Dios are in no way contradictory, being but two 
names for the same religious concept; likewise Madre de Dios del ]acan 
would most probably have been the name of the ill-fated mission, if it had 
one. It is certainly significant that the Spaniards were on the Virginia coast 
and in Chesapeake Bay so near the time of the disappearance of the "Lost 
G)lony." If any further doubt could exist as to the identity of this locality, 
we have but to look at a few seventeenth century maps: a Portuguese map 
(1618) which shows "La Virginia" and "B. de Jacam" in juxtaposition; a 
Dutch map (1655) which shows "Barra de Madre de Dios" exactly where 
our Bay is; and three other Dutch maps (1666, 1681, 1695) which read re- 
spectively "Barra de Madre de Dios oft Chesepeac," "de Bay van Cheseapeke 
off Bahia de Madre de Dios," and "De Groote Bay van Chesapeake off Bahia 
de Madre de Dios."" 

On 7 March 1588/9 Sir Walter Raleigh took a further step toward bringing 
in outside help in his effort to establish a colony, by renewing his grant of 
trading rights in Virginia to Sir Thomas Smith, John White and others, this 
time also including the well-known name of Richard Hakluyt. Meanwhile 
White had been prevented from returning to Virginia with promised supplies 
by the events centering around the attack by and defeat of the Spanish Armada 
in 1588. It was not until 1590 that he was able to depart again for Roanoke 
to bring relief to the colony left there three years earlier, the group which 
included his new-born granddaughter, his daughter and her husband. This 
sixth Raleigh-sponsored expedition set sail from Plymouth in March and 
arrived off the coast of Virginia in August of 1590, stopping at Wokokon, 
Hatorask and Roanoke. Here no trace of the colony was found, only ruin 
and desolation, and the carved letters CROATOAN on a tree. Foul weather 
and shortage of food and water prevented White from searching farther 
inland, and he returned to England, arriving at Plymouth in October of the 
same year. In June 1600, an Irish mercenary of the Saint Augustine garrison 
testified before the Spanish Governor that he believed the English were still 
in Virginia, a matter to be discussed at greater length in another place.^" 

After White's effort of 1590, it was a dozen years before the Virginia 
venture was revived again. This time the leading light was the Earl of 
Southampton, who contributed toward the outfitting of a vessel named the 
Concord, which, under the command of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, de- 
parted Falmouth on 26 March 1602 for "the north part of Virginia." This 
vessel touched at Cape Cod and Martin's (now Martha's) Vineyard — both of 
which names date from this time — and made a settlement of only a few 
weeks duration on Cuttyhunk, now Elizabeth's Island. The narrative of this 
voyage is said to have been "delivered by Gabriel Archer, a gentleman in the 


said voyage." Another familiar ligure who made the trip was Captain John 
Martin, whose name was probably attached to the island mentioned above.-' 
Almost simultaneous with Gosnold's effort was Raleigh's seventh — and what 
was to be his last — expedition to Virginia; Raleigh's interest was still in the 
southern colony, and evidently still believing in the existence of the Roanoke 
colony, he hoped that this effort would produce some news of its members. 
The single ship, whose name is not reported, departed Weymouth under 
command of Captain Samuel Mace, who (it was said) had been to Virginia 
before. It arrived on the coast below Hatorask (about 34° North Latitude), 
but instead of searching for the unfortunate colonists left there fifteen years 
before, the captain and crew seem to have been more interested in trading 
with the natives. At any rate they returned to England none the wiser as to 
the Roanoke colony, but with a valuable cargo of bark, roots, herbs, and other 
articles taken in trade.-- 

With the death of Queen Elizabeth and accession of James I in 1603, 
Raleigh's star definitely went into eclipse. Before the end of that year he had 
been tried, convicted, condemned to death, reprieved, and imprisoned in the 
Tower of London. On account of his attainder all his rights in the Colony 
of Virginia reverted to the Crown, but when the Virginia Company charter 
was issued in l606, there appeared in it many individuals who had been 
associated with him in previous attempts: Sir Thomas Smith, Rev. Richard 
Hakluyt, his own nephew Raleigh Gilbert, just to mention a few. These and 
others were to furnish the capital, for the canny Scotsman then on the 
throne was desirous of the prestige and revenue to be derived from a per- 
manent colony, but not to the extent of having it financed either by himself 
personally or by his government.-^ 

As before, we are here concerned with the band of colonists which ar- 
rived in Virginia in 1607 only insofar as their activities touched the present 
area of major interest. This company set sail from Blackwall, London, on 
19 December 1606 in three small vessels, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, 
and the Discovery, commanded respectively by Captain Christopher Newport, 
Captain Batholomew Gosnold, and Captain John Ratcliff; Newport was also 
"Admiral" (commander) of the squadron. Names of the other principals will 
be mentioned as the story develops. One of the best accounts of the voyage 
and of the arrival of the company in Virginia was written by Captain George 
Percy,^* one of the gentlemen of the party, and later to be President of the 
Council (acting governor) . After some delay caused by unfavorable weather, 
they finally got away, following the route via the Canaries and West Indies, 
so that they approached the Chesapeake from the south like all their prede- 
cessors. They made landfall on our coast at four o'clock in the morning on 
26 April 1607, the third Sunday after Easter; it will be recalled that Captain 
John Smith wrote that the appearance of the coast showed white hilly sand 


""like unto the Downs" [the Kentish coast between Ramsgate and Dover], and 
that there were plenty of pines and "firs" (cedars).-^ They entered "the Bay 
of Chesupioc" and on the same day made up a landing party to explore the 
south shore of the bay. In addition to Newport, Gosnold and Percy, there 
were Edward Maria Wingfield (to be first President of the Council), Captain 
Gabriel Archer (who had been with Gosnold at Cape Cod in 1602), and a 
number of seamen and soldiers. Captain John Smith was, of course, not present 
at this first landing, being under restraint because of his alleged part in a 
mutiny on the voyage. Artists who have depicted the landing scene have 
given prominence to the Rev. Robert Hunt, chaplain of the expedition; 
although he was not specifically mentioned in Percy's narrative, it is not 
improbable that he was ashore when the cross was set up a few days later. 
Thus the story of the second attempt to colonize Virginia — the first having 
failed at Roanoke — actually begins in the Lower Tidewater area at Cape 

These explorers found broad fields, tall trees and fresh water springs in 
the woods. Toward dusk, as they were preparmg to return aboard the ships 
at anchor, some Indians (presumably Chesapeakes) came crawling out of the 
sand dunes with their bows in their mouths, and made a sharp assault on 
the intruders at the water's edge. The English returned their arrows with 
harquebus shot and the Indians retired howling into the woods. There were 
two casualties resulting from this skirmish: Captain Gabriel Archer was hit in 
both hands, and a seaman named Matthew Morton was wounded twice in 
the body; both appear to have been painfully — but not seriously — hurt. The 
fact that the Smith map showed the designation "Morton's Bay," exactly where 
Lynnhaven Roads is now, gives some weight to the assumption that this first 
landing took place about at Lynnhaven Inlet, or probably a little to the 
east of it. 

On their second day ashore (said Percy), the gentlemen and soldiers 
penetrated eight miles inland. Since they did not mention seeing any Indian 
habitation, it is safe to assume, as we have, that the landing was east of Lynn- 
haven. West of it was Apasus, according to the White map of 1585; likewise 
they must have followed a route which took them away from the village of 
Chesepiooc, inland on the west side of the river in 1585. Of course, we have 
no way of knowing whether the towns of 1585 were still in existence in 1607. 
Though they saw no natives, they did find a fire where the savages had been 
roasting oysters but had fled among the dunes at the white men's approach. 
The latter ate some of the roasted bivalves which had been left behind, 
finding them quite big and of a delicate flavor. Thus on Monday, 27 April 
1607, occurred the first recorded account of a Lynnhaven oyster roast, a 
thing which has been delighting all successive generations even to the present 



On the third day — Tuesday, 28 April 1607 — they built and launched their 
shallop, a wide flat-bottomed boat, brought over in an unfinished state and 
assembled here. Captain Newport and some of the gentlemen journeyed from 
the Lynnhaven anchorage up toward Hampton Roads and found the mouth 
of a river — probably the Elizabeth — which was quite shallow. Then crossing 
over, they came to land near the present site of Hampton, a place bare of 
trees or bushes. Here they saw their first dugout log canoe, forty-five feet 


long; here they saw many mussels and oysters and claimed to have found 
pearls in some of them. 

Going three or four miles inland they saw smoke but no natives, and 
could not determine whether the smoke was from clearing fires or signal 
fires. They saw many kinds and colors of wildflowers here, as well as cedar, 
cypress and other trees. Of especial interest is the report of "fine and beau- 
tiful strawberries, four times bigger and better than ours in England." For 
this section of shore east of Hampton Creek has been called traditionally 
Strawberry Banks ever since. Of great significance also is the fact that in this 
locality they saw "neither savage nor town;" the native village of Kecoughtan 
was on the other side of the creek, as will be shown below. Near dusk on this 
third day, as they made ready to return to the anchorage, they were dis- 
couraged at first to find the water quite shallow, but then they rowed over 
to a point of land and found a good, deep channel, "which put us in good 


comfort," for which reason that place was named Cape Comfort. It later 
came to be known as Point Comfort, then Old Pomt Comfort — to differentiate 
from New Point Comfort up Chesapeake Bay — and today is familiarly called 
here simply Old Point. It is interesting to note that the next headland to the 
west — now called Newport News Point — was called Point Hope and was 
so shown on Captain John Smith's map. 

On their fourth day in the new land, George Percy wrote: "The nine and 
twentieth day we sett up a crosse at Chesepiooc Bay, and named that place 
Cape Henry." It has been assumed, though Percy did not specify, that some 
sort of religious rite was performed at this time. It was customary so to do, 
and if so, it was conducted by the Rev. Robert Hunt, as noted above. There 
is no record of a formal christening of Cape Charles, but it undoubtedly 
happened about the same time. Nine years later Captain John Smith wrote 
that the two "nameless headlands" had been named in honor of the King's 
two sons. 

On Thursday, 30 April, the larger ships were brought mto the channel 
off Cape Comfort, and there five Indians were seen running along the shore. 
Captain Newport had the shallop manned and rowed toward them in an at- 
tempt to communicate with them. At first they were fearful, but when he 
made signs of friendship and peace, they laid down their weapons and made 
signs for the English to come to their town, Kecoughtan. This they did, and 
following the shore and rowing past a river — which the Indians swam across 
with bows and arrows in mouth — arrived at the village. Kecoughtan (written 
many ways, but "Kickatan" best renders the local pronunciation) was the 
first native town viewed by the English in 1607; it appears from the above 
account to have been on the west side of Hampton (the river just mentioned), 
the Smith and Tindall maps to the contrary notwithstanding. And as was 
pointed out before, archaeological search in that area has borne out this 
theory.-** The colonists were well received, almost with reverence, and mats 
were spread on the ground for their comfort as they were offered pone and 
other articles of food. After finishing their meal, they were given tobacco 
in a large clay pipe with a bowl of fine copper, and their hosts entertained 
them with a ceremonial dance. The latter was thus described: one Indian 
stood in the center clapping his hands and the others circled around him, 
shouting, howling and stamping the ground, performing all sorts of antics 
and making faces. This lasted for half an hour, and they were rewarded by 
the Captain with the gift of some beads and other trinkets. Thus ended the 
first five days of the company's stay in Virginia, all spent in the waters and 
on the shores of Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads. From here they 
went on to explore the James River and finally to settle upon the site of their 
permanent fort and plantation at Jamestown on 13 May 1607. 

In the account of Newport's exploration of the upper James River in late 


May (after the settlement at Jamestown), there were two references to the 
Chesapeakes which are of interest to our story. In the iirst place, Newport was 
told by Tanxpowhatan that the Chesapeakes were enemies to the tribes of the 
Powhatan confederacy, whereupon he told of his own displeasure with them, 
and of the fact that he had refused to plant his colony among them. He told 
of the skirmish at Cape Henry on the first day, and had Captain Archer show 
his as yet unhealed wounds. In the second place, Newport later told Opechan- 
canough that the English were the professed enemies of the Chesapeake Tribe. 
These were, of course, political moves designed to gain the favor of the 
powerful confederacy in whose territory they were settled."^ 

Later in 1607, the Jamestown colony being destitute for food, they were 
unwillingly given maize by the Indians at Kecoughtan, and later were more 
kindly treated by those at Warrascoyack (Isle of Wight), who willingly 
traded with them for food. Smith described the town of Kecoughtan as con- 
taining eighteen lodges and covering three acres; here he obtain fifteen 
bushels of corn. Returning to Jamestown, he met some natives of Warrascoyack 
and was invited to their town, where he obtained an additional thirty bushels 
to take back to the fort. 

Smith had, of course, been released from his previous arrest in June 1607. 
About a year later he set out on his first exploratory trip up the Chesapeake. 
One incident of this trip concerns his being struck in the wrist by a stingray, 
and returning to Jamestown in July of 1608 he was guilty of two pieces of 
deception. He stopped at Kecoughtan, and led the natives there to believe 
he had been attacked and wounded by unfriendly Indians on the Rappa- 
hannock. Continuing farther, he stopped at Warrascoyack and trimmed his 
barge with colored flags and other insignia. Arriving at Jamestown in this 
condition he startled the fort company into believing a hostile Spanish galleon 
had arrived. ^^ 

Before the end of July 1608, Smith set out on his second exploration of 
Virginia waters. It was probably in August that he was returning toward 
Cape Comfort and ran into a severe thunder storm. Taking shelter there 
until the storm was spent, he decided to visit Chesapeake and Nansemond 
territory which he knew only by hearsay. Hence his party crossed over Hamp- 
ton Roads and sailed into a narrow river (the Elizabeth) in the "country of 
Chesapeake." It had a good channel, said Smith, but with some shoal water 
at its entrance. They followed this river six or seven miles and saw several 
fields in cultivation and some natives lodges. This distance would have 
brought them about as far as the 1585 locality of Skicoak, the village which 
Smith called Chesepiooc on his map, but Smith's description does not imply 
it was a village settlement he saw. He described shores overgrown with tall 
pines and cedars, and here the visit to Elizabeth River ended. The party re- 
turned to the river's mouth and followed the shore toward Nansemond where 


they found chiefly oyster beds. They surprised some savages working their 
weirs (fish pounds or traps), who fled in alarm but soon returned to sing 
and dance on the shore, and to invite the white men to visit them. The 
English sailed seven or eight miles up their river with one Indian in their 
boat and the others following along the shore. On the west bank were broad 
cornfields, and a little island in the river. Smith's map shows "Sharpe's Isle" 
at about this point, and a current State Highway Department map shows an 
island here less than a quarter mile in diameter. It is likewise true that the 
network of creeks that drain into the river from both sides may have made an 
island of some of these swampy areas at some time in the distant past. 

The Indian who was riding in the boat lived on the island and invited 
the party to his home. Other natives came and wanted them to go farther up 
the river to see their habitations, which they foolishly did. The natives fol- 
lowed on shore armed with their bows and arrows and could not be per- 
suaded to board the English barge. Soon it appeared that seven or eight canoe 
loads of warriors were following, and from both sides of the river — as well 
as from the canoes — arrows were loosed thick and fast. Smith believed there 
were both Chesapeakes and Nansemonds in this hostile group, which is 
notable since the latter were subjects of Powhatan while the former were not. 
The savages were finally pacified and were persuaded to "donate" four hun- 
dred baskets of maize, upon a firm threat of breaking up their canoes and 
burning their lodges. "And so, departing good friends [wrote Smith], we re- 
turned to Jamestowne . . ." on 7 September 1608 !!-^ 

On 29 December following. Smith again set out at the head of a company 
with the avowed purpose of surprising and killing Powhatan, and seizing all 
his store of provisions. They lodged the first night at Warrascoyack, whose 
chief tried to dissuade Smith from his purpose, and failing in this warned him 
to watch out for treachery on Powhatan's part. The next night they lodged 
at Kecoughtan, where extreme winter weather — wind, rain and snow — 
obliged them to keep "Old Christmas" (6 January) among the Indians. Here 
they made merry and feasted on oysters, fish, flesh and wildfowl served with 
pone, and were quite comfortable in the dry, warm (but smoky) native 
cabins. The complete story of this foray against Powhatan and its unsuccessful 
conclusion was related in detail, but does not concern directly the present 

It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that all the expeditions for 
the supply and relief of Jamestown passed through Chesapeake Bay and 
Hampton Roads, though not always touching at these shores. These early 
voyages were almost without exception under the command of Captain Chris- 
topher Newport, who made no less than five roundtrip ocean crossings 
including the first in 1607. After the settlement at Jamestown, he returned to 
England in Susan Constant accompanied by Godspeed, leaving Discovery in 


Virginia; this crossing lasted from 22 June to 29 July 1607. The "First 
Supply" departed England the following October in John and Francis under 
Captain Newport, and Phoenix, Captain Francis Nelson ; the former arrived in 
Virginia in January, but Phoenix was considerably delayed and did not arrive 
until April or May. Newport departed in ]ohn and Francis on 10 April and 
arrived at Blackwall on 21 May 1608; Phoenix returning left Virginia in 
June. The "Second Supply" arrived in Virginia in October 1608 in Mary and 
Margaret; an important passenger on this voyage was Captain Francis West, 
brother of Lord de la Warr, who was to play a prominent part in the affairs 
of the colony. On the return voyage in December, Newport was accompanied 
by Captain John Ratcliff, commander of the pinnace Discovery at its first 
arrival. The largest fleet ever assembled for the Virginia voyage was the ill- 
fated squadron that departed Falmouth on 8 June 1609 bearing Sir Thomas 
Gates, Virginia's first Governor — prior to this she had only a President of 
the Council — and Sir George Somers, Admiral of Virginia. Of the nine ships 
in this fleet, the most important were Sea Venture, Diamond and Falcon, 
commanded respectively by Captains Newport, Ratcliff and John Martin.^^ 

At this point occurred the last Spanish attempt to hunt out and "dis- 
courage" non-Spanish settlements on the Atlantic north of Florida. In June 
1609, Francisco de Ecija, coastal scout for several Governors of Florida, was 
sent north from Saint Augustine on a reconnoitering mission. His vessel, 
Asuncion de Crista, entered Chesapeake Bay on 24 July, and the Spaniards 
were surprised to sight an unidentified ship in the distance (probably near 
Cape Comfort) . The local natives were questioned and told them of the settle- 
ment at Jamestown. Ecija decided to turn back without risking an encounter 
with the newcomers, believing he would be concerned with a much stronger 
and more firmly fixed post than was actually the case. It would be interesting 
to know what vessel the Spaniards saw. Of all those named so far, only the 
pinnace Discovery did not return to England; it was used by the colonists — 
as was also the shallop — in their exploratory trips up and down the bay and 
rivers. Of course the big fleet headed by Sea Venture had not arrived. It 
is possible that Captain Argall's ship (he was later to be Deputy Governor) 
was standing off Cape Comfort at that time; it arrived in July for the purpose 
of fishing for sturgeon, and stayed until September. It is a pity we do not know 
the name of this ship, for it was the first English ship, that we know of, to 
sail directly across the ocean from England to Virginia instead of taking the 
circuitous route via the Canary or Cape Verde Islands and "West Indies. Argall 
was considered a good mariner, and his sailing master was Robert Tindall, 
of the first 1607 voyage, who drew an early map of Virginia, as we have 
previously noted.'^ 

On 11 August 1609, there arrived six of the nine vessels of the great fleet, 
including Falcon under Captain John Martin and Diamond, under Captain 

Va. 5 


John Ratcliff. This squadron had run afoul the tail of a Caribbean hurricane, 
and what happened to the flagship Sea Venture will be related below. ^^ 

The first two settlements in Virginia made outside Jamestown were estab- 
lished at this time. One of these was at Nansemond and was under the 
command of Captain John Martin; with him were Captain Percy and sixty 
others. They apparently fortified themselves in an island (possibly the one in 
the Nansemond River before mentioned), but difficulties with the natives 
soon caused the post to be abandoned. Captain Martin, as has been pointed 
out before, had had a connection with the Virginia Colonies as far back as 
1586, when he commanded a ship under Sir Francis Drake. He was also a 
member of the first Council at Jamestown in 1607, and commander of the 
Falcon which had just arrived from England. The other 1609 settlement was 
at the Falls of the James (Henrico) .^^ 

In October of 1609, Captain Percy — then President of the Council — 
ordered Captain Ratcliff to Cape Comfort to build a fort. He recognized this 
as a strategic point, commanding the channel, and an excellent lookout point 
from which to detect approaching ships. It was also important for the pro- 
tection of fishing activities in that area. This fort was named Algernoun Fort 
by Percy in honor of his remote ancestor, William de Percy, surnamed Alger- 
noun or Alsgernouns, "bewhiskered," founder of the line of Earls of North- 
umberland at the time of the Conquest. Captain Percy was a younger brother 
of the ninth Earl. This surname, like many other, was written in many ways — 
the most incorrect of which appears as Algernourne on a State historical 
marker — but the usual form was the Anglo-Norman singular or plural given 
above. Captain James Davis was in command of the fort.^'' 

We turn back a little way now to see what happened to Sea Venture with 
its important passenger list: Governor Sir Thomas Gates, Admiral Sir George 
Somers, Rev. Richard Buck, Mr. Secretary Strachey, Captain George Yeardley 
and Captain Christopher Newport. This vessel had difficulties in the bad 
weather like the others, but — unlike them — did not arrive safely in Virginia. 
It was shipwrecked off Bermuda, and though it broke up on a reef, all hands 
on board were saved as well as a large part of the stores and cargo. This was 
in July of 1609, and the event furnished a setting for Shakespeare's play 
The Tempest, in which, it will be recalled, reference was made to the "still- 
vexed Bermoothes," or constantly turbulent Bermudas. With the gear and 
material they could salvage the crew set to work to build two pinnaces, 
Deliverance and Patience. Departing Bermuda on 10 May 1610 these two 
small ships arrived off Cape Comfort on the 21st and Sir Thomas Gates 
landed then and there at Algernoun Fort, where he was received by Captain 
George Percy, last President of the Council to act as Governor.*"' 

They proceeded to Jamestown, and the sorrowful condition in which they 
found the colony as a result of the "Starving Time" of 1609-1610 caused 


Gates to decide to abandon it. Accordingly, all hands and all serviceable stores 
were loaded into the only four ships then in the colony, the pinnaces Discovery, 
Deliverance, Patience and Virginia (the latter one of the great fleet of 1609), 
and stood down James River on 7 June 1610. The next day off Mulberry Island 
(in present Warwick), they were met by a long boat with the good news of 
the arrival of Lord de la Warr (Delaware) at Algernoun Fort two days 
earlier. So the pinnaces were turned around and headed back to Jamestown, 
where His Lordship's vessel also arrived on Sunday, 10 June. At this time 
de la Warr as governor superseded Gates, who became his lieutenant.^' 

On 7 July 1610, the fort's long boat was blown away over to the Nan- 
semond side by a strong wind. One of Gates's men, Humfrey Blunt, at- 
tempting to recover it in an old canoe, was driven ashore on the Warwick side, 
where he fell into savage hands and was killed. The place where this oc- 
curred was for many years called Blunt Point and is the downstream side of 
the mouth where Warwick River empties into James River.^'^ Two days later, 
in order to be revenged for Blunt's death, the English very inconsistently set 
upon the Indian village of Kecoughtan (whose people had nothing to do 
with it) which they captured, the inhabitants having fled. Lieutenant Earley 
was left here in command. Before the end of July they had built another fort, 
Charles Fort, and a short time thereafter a third, Henry Fort. It is difficult 
to identify these locations with any exactitude, but it appears that Algernoun 
was on the site presently occupied by the old part of Fort Monroe, while 
Charles and Henry Forts were respectively near the site of Kecoughtan and 
on the Strawberry Banks: i. e., on each side of the mouth of Southampton 
River (Hampton Creek) .^^ The post and fort thus established at Kecoughtan 
in July of 1610 is the basis for the claim advanced for this area's being the 
oldest continuously settled spot in British America; it is second in antiquity 
only to the settlement at Jamestown, abandoned in the eighteenth century, 
and even though the site of the post at Kecoughtan does not coincide with 
the site selected when the Town of Hampton was established by law in 1680, 
both were to fall within the bounds of the expanded City of Hampton, as 
will later more fully appear. It has been said also that from this same year 
of 1610 dates the first Anglican Church in Virginia after the one in Jamestown, 
which was to become the Parish Church of Kecoughtan. A minister, the Rev. 
William Mease, was here traditionally in 1610, but with more certainty in 
1613 according to his own oath, and was specifically mentioned by John Rolfe 
as minister at Kecoughtan in 1615; as such, said Rolfe, Mease was one of 
four ministers of the gospel in Virginia at this time, the others being Buck 
at Jamestown, Wickham at Henrico, and Whitaker at Bermuda Hundred.** 

Recent archaeological investigation has revealed evidence of a post con- 
temporary with that at Kecoughtan, and like it built on the site of a former 
Indian village. This was in what was later Lower Norfolk County (now 


Princess Anne) between Ocean Park and Chesapeake Beach, about where 
the village of Apasus was shown on White's map of 1585. It is most unusual 
that none of the early narratives mentions a settlement on the south side of 
the Bay as early as 1610, but the remains on this site have been identified 
with a fair amount of certainty, as was mentioned in the previous chapter.^' 

In May of l6ll, Sir Thomas Dale arrived in Virginia to be its Governor. 
He was in the Star, commanded by Captain Newport, and accompanied by 
Prosperous and Elizabeth; they stopped first at Cape Comfort. One of Dale's 
first official acts was to organize a campaign for the subjugation of the 
Nansemond Indians, going against them with a hundred men in armor. In 
the encounters and skirmishes which followed. Captain West and Captain 
Martin were wounded and Dale himself narrowly escaped serious injury when 
his steel headpiece turned away an arrow. The Indians, not having seen full 
armor before this, marveled at the fact that so few Englishmen fell in this 
combat. Other significant events occurred about the time of Dale's arrival. 
Algernoun Fort was destroyed by fire accidentally, although no damage was 
done to the house and storehouse of Captain Davis, then commander there. 
The latter, fearing to be censured for the accident, had the fort rebuilt in a 
remarkably short time. At this time also took place the first planting of corn 
at Kecoughtan at Dale's command, and the Governor is said to have explored 
the Nansemond to its source. It was in the Nansemond neighborhood that the 
English first learned of the "rain dance." Passing by one of the towns on that 
river, they saw a group of natives emerge on the shore, engaging in wild 
gyrations and antics and throwing fire out of a "thing like a censer." They 
were told by a friendly Indian that it would soon rain very hard, and so it 
turned out: a heavy rain shower in the immediate vicinity, accompanied by 
thunder and lightning.*^ 

In the Summer of l6ll, there occurred a strange incident connected with 
the Spaniards. A caravel of that nation made bold to enter the bay and 
anchored off Algernoun Fort. Three men from the ship coming ashore were 
surprised and taken by Captain Davis, to whom they related a story of coming 
there to seek one of their own ships bound for the West Indies which had 
gone astray. They requested a pilot for their ship, and one Captain John 
Clarke agreed so to serve them, but no sooner was he on board than the 
caravel set sail and departed with him leaving its own three men behind. 
They were kept prisoners at Jamestown for a while, but were later transported 
to England. It was believed, from information obtained in questioning them, 
that they had come to Virginia to spy out the land in preparation for an 
attack, which incidentally never materialized. Captain Clarke was carried off 
to Havana, it was learned later, and then to Spain where he was held for 
about five years. He was finally released by exchange, and, after the passage 


of a few years, is said to have made the voyage in 1620 as the pilot of the 

In July of 1611, Captains Argall and Bruster were sent against the War- 
rascoyack Indians, because of their alleged failure to fulfill an agreement to 
furnish maize. The Indians fled, as they had at Kecoughtan, and two of their 
villages were burned. Later the same month, Captain Newport captured 
Sasenticum, werowance of Warrascoyack, and his son Kainta, the latter of 
whom was sent to England.^* 

The time from l6ll to 1619 was a period of expansion and development 
of the Colony, and of crystallization of its territorial, administrative, judicial, 
and ecclesiastical organization. Other than the settlement at Kecoughtan — 
where Captain George Webb was commander and the Rev. William Mease 
minister — there are few details of possible activities in Lower Tidewater, but 
momentous events were taking place elsewhere in Virginia which were to have 
great influence here. This was the time of the conversion and baptism of 
Pocahontas and her marriage to John Rolfe in 1614, of her death in England 
in 1617, of the establishment of private property in 1617, and of the death 
of the overlord Powhatan in 1618. At this time were established the Hundreds, 
the Particular Plantations, and their Parishes. For instance, in l6ll posts 
were established at Henrico and New Bermudas, which in 1613 became re- 
spectively the Upper or Henrico Hundred and the Nether or Bermuda 
Hundred. Also in 1613 were established Rochdale Hundred, West and Shirley 
Hundred''" and Diggs' Hundred (quaintly called "Digges his Hundred"). In 
1614 there was Dale's Gift not far from Cape Charles. In 1617 came Smith's 
Hundred, Argall's Gift, Hamor's Plantation, Captain Ward's Plantation, and 
Captain John Martin's famous plantation called Martin's Brandon; in 1618, 
Martin's Hundred (named for a different Martin) and Flowerdew Hundred;^® 
and finally in 1619, Captain Lawne's Plantation, Bartlett's Hundred, and the 
famous Berkeley Hundred.^' Of all these hundreds and particular plantations, 
only Captain Lawne's was in Lower Tidewater; it was in what later became 
Isle of Wight County, in fact it gave the name to that county, as will later 

Each hundred and plantation had its Commander, its Provost Marshal 
(sheriff), and its Bailiff who was Justice of the Hundred Court, although no 
record of the latter has survived. Likewise each was intended to be a parish 
of the Anglican Church and under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop 
of London, since Virginia was in his diocese. It might be enlightening to give 
a few details at this point about the earliest ministers and churches. The Rev. 
Robert Hunt was, of course, the chaplain of the first company which arrived 
in 1607 and established Jamestown in May of that year; he died the following 
year, and the settlement was without a minister for two years, until the Rev. 
Richard Buck arrived in May of 1610. In 1611 came the Rev. Alexander 


Whitaker, M. A. (Cantab.), a former Regius Professor of Divinity at Cam- 
bridge; he became minister at both Henrico and Bermuda Hundred; he soon 
had an assistant in the Rev. William Wickham, a deacon who acted for him 
at Henrico. There is a very strong tradition that the Rev. William Mease ar- 
rived u^ith Lord de la Warr in June of 1610, and became minister at Kecough- 
tan when the first English settlement was made there the following month. 
However, there is some doubt that he was here before 1613, for he made 
oath in April of 1623 that he had then been in Virginia for ten years. John 
Rolfe wrote that in 1613 there were only four ministers in Virginia: Buck 
at Jamestown, Whitaker at Bermuda Hundred, Wickham at Henrico, and 
Mease at Kecoughtan. Rolfe also gave the names of the Commanders in these 
localities, who were, respectively, Captain Francis West, Captain George 
Yeardley, the deputy governor, Captain Smaley, and Captain George Webb. 
It should be pointed out that two other inhabited places were listed at this 
same time, West and Shirley Hundred and Dale's Gift, but neither had a 
minister. It is a most significant fact that, between 1607 and l6ll, or at 
latest 1615, the four principal settlements in the Colony had acquired both 
military (later to become civil) and ecclesiastical administration, and that 
their locations correspond in a general way with the four boroughs or cor- 
porations which were to be established in 1619, as will appear in the next 

A word should be said here about the nature and location of the Kecough- 
tan church and settlement. It is known that the two earliest churches at James- 
town (l607 and 1608) were very rude structures, probably of the "wattle 
and daub" type, and that no church building of even semi-permanent character 
(frame on cobble-stone and brick foundation) was constructed until after 
Argall became Governor in 1617. There is no reason to believe things were 
different at Kecoughtan, and it is fairly certain that the first church there 
was of the very rough type mentioned above. The recent archaeological in- 
vestigations — previously noted — failed to unearth evidence of its exact loca- 
tion; however, documentary search has shown that the pond or lagoon later 
known as the Beaver Dams was originally called Church Creek, and the land 
adjacent to it the Glebe Land, very early in the seventeenth century (before 
1624). A recognized authority on local church history placed the first Kecough- 
tan church between 1613 and 1616, though, as we have seen, there is a 
possibility that it may date from 1610. The former Church Creek flowed into 
Hampton Roads a little to the east of the intersection of Boulevard and LaSalle 
Avenue, and the Indian village of Kecoughtan (location of the English settle- 
ment in 1610) was east of the creek. The Glebe Land or parish farm, and 
therefore the site of the church, adjoined the creek on the west and contained 
one hundred acres."''' 

There was another church in Virginia before the laying out of the Cor- 


porations (l6l9) ; though not within the bounds of Lower Tidewater, it had 
a direct physical link with the Kecoughtan church, and we must give some 
of its history here. Reference was made earUer to Smith's Hundred, estab- 
lished in 1617 and deriving its name from Sir Thomas Smith, lirst Treasurer 
(chief executive) of the Virginia Company for London and former associate 
of Sir Waiter Raleigh in the Roanoke venture in 1587. Sir Thomas was one of 
the chief promoters and stockholders in the Hundred bearing his name; its 
original area comprised some 80,000 acres in what is now Charles City County 
between the mouth of the Chickahominy River and Weyanoke, and its Com- 
mander was Sir George Yeardley who resided there not far from Sandy 
(Dancing) Point between his term as Deputy Governor and that as Governor 
(1617-1619). The importance of Smith's Hundred is attested to by the fact 
it had its own church and was probably the first plantation parish, and sub- 
sequent only to the four principal ones which were to become corporation 
parishes and later county parishes. Mrs. Mary Robinson of London, by her 
will dated 13 February 1617/8, bequeathed £200 "towards the building of a 
Churche" in Virginia; her cousin. Sir John Wolstenholme, was interested in 
Smith's Hundred, and since he had a say in the distribution of the bequest, 
the church was built there, probably in 1618 or 1619. It was recorded in 1622 
that an anonymous donor had previous given communion silver "for the 
Church of Mistresse Mary Robinson's founding," and there are still in existence 
two patens and a chalice bearing the date-letter for 1618-19, the chalice being 
SMITHS HUNDRED IN VIRGINIA. These interesting pieces are now in 
the possession of St. John's Church in Hampton, descendant of the Kecoughtan 
church, and how this came about will be explained at the appropriate time. 
It is not known for certain who was minister at St. Mary's; there were two 
other ministers of the gospel who arrived about this time. Rev. George Keith 
in 1617 and Rev. Samuel Macock in 1618. It is our guess that Keith was 
minister at Martin's Hundred, established in 1618 as a plantation parish, 
since the ecclesiastical establishment was an important part of local govern- 
Mary's, since he perished in the great massacre of 1622, when that church 
probably ceased to exist also — but of these matters more anon.'* 

The two most important events that happened in Virginia at this time 
were (a) the division of the Colony's settled areas into four administrative 
units called corporations or boroughs, and (b) the establishment of a repre- 
sentative legislative assembly. These two significant occurrences — both initiated 
on the same day in 1618 and accomplished early in 1619 — are very closely 
related. The English parliamentary system, after which the Virginia Assembly 
was patterned, required that members be chosen to represent certain geo- 
graphical areas; hence it was necessary for Virginia to have such districts in 
order that members for its General Assembly might be chosen, as well as 


for the more orderly execution of the administrative, judicial and ecclesiastical 
functions of government. Thus, the establishment of the four Great Corpora- 
tions in 1619 marks the real beginning of the Virginia county system of local 
government, which existed in embryonic form before I6II, was formally 
initiated in 1634, and still prevails in somewhat modified form today; and 
since the ecclesiastical establishment was an important part of local govern- 
ment, it may be said that the parish system had a contemporary and parallel 

From this point on, we shall be concerned with the history of only one of 
these four divisions, for it will be shown that the area we have designated 
as Lower Tidewater Virginia is practically co-terminous with the Corporation 
of Elizabeth City, and that the latter was divided in 1634 into three of the 
original eight shires or counties, which were in turn eventually subdivided 
into the seven counties whose stories are told in the present volumes. 

Notes on Chapter III 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 

1. Pageant of America, I, 69-75. 

2. Ibid., p. 112; EncBrit, IV, 921-3; Harrisse, ]oh)} Cabot, pp. 126-41 ; Biddle, Memoir, p. 79. 

3. Pageant of America, I, 113; Harrisse, op. cit., pp. 136-7. 

4. Swain, Chesapeake Bay, pp. 5-6; Lefler, History of North Carolina, I, 16-7. 

5. EncBrit, III, 73; Swain, loc. cit., Lefler, op. cit., p. 18. 

6. Lewis & Loomie, Spanish Mission in Virginia, pp. 8-10; Cartografia de la America Central, 
Plate I; Gomara, Historia de la Indias, pp. 162-3. 

7. Lewis & Loomie, op. cit., pp. 9-18, 256-8: this work contains a very fine essay on the 
cartography of Chesapeake Bay, pp. 250-269. 

8. Ibid., p. 13; see also Chapter II, note 12. 

9. Manning, Spanish Missions, pp. 49-57; Lewis & Loomie, op. cit., pp. 12-55, passim. 
in. Lewis & Loomie, op. cit., pp. 16-7, 58-61, 244-9. 

11. Swain, op. cit., p. 8; Lewis & Loomie, op. cit., p. 55. 

12. Sams, The First Attempt, pp. 59-80, Barlowe's narrative. 

13. Beverley, History of Virginia, p. 17. 

14. Sams, The Second Attempt, p. 238. 

15. Sams, The First Attempt, pp. 161-211, Lane's narrative. 

16. Ibid., pp. 204-11, 225-8. 

17. Ibid., p. 239. 

18. Ibid., pp. 242-68, White's narrative. 

19. Lewis & Loomie, op. cit., pp. 55-6, 190, 206, 264-6; Swain, op. cit., p. 9; the latter has some- 
what confused the cousins Menendez Marques. 

20. Sams, op. cit., pp. 284, 287-316; Manning, op. cit., pp. 114-5 (and note 7); Reding, "Letter 
of Gonzalo," pp. 214-28; see also Chapter XXX below. 

21. Old South Leaflets, V (1902), 405-14. 

22. Sams, op. cit., pp. 364-5. 

23. Ibid., pp. 371-414; see also Sams, The Second Attempt, p. 751. 

24. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 89-195, Percy's narrative, which is quoted here except where 
specifically indicated otherwise. 

25. See Note 25, Chapter I. 

26. Brittingham, Kicotan. 

27. Mook, "Virginia Ethnology," p. 108. 


28. Sams, op. cit., pp. 458-9. 

29. Ibid., pp. 465-488. 

30. Ibid., pp. 530-1. 

31. Ibid., pp. 245, 265, 315, 389, 475, 501, 527, 577; the reference to the first governor here 
means since the arrival in 1607, as John White was the first Governor of Virginia in 1587 
(see note 17 above). 

32. Swain, op. cit., pp. 9-10; Sams, op. cit., pp. 98-9, 609-10, 624, 630, 639; Lewis & Loomie, 
op. cit., pp. 55-6 (213 note) 7. 

33. Sams, The Second Attempt, p. 633. 

34. Ibid., p. 649; Sams, The Third Attempt, pp. 95-8; Southall, "Captain John Martin," p. 24. 

35. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 732-3; The Third Attempt, pp. lOO-l. 

36. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 713-9- 

37. Ibid., pp. 727-9. 

38. Sams, The Third Attempt, p. 117. 

39. Ibid., pp. 121-2, 161-2. 

40. Ibid., pp. 210, 285, 690; the two settlements of 1609 — at Nansemond and at the Falls 
(Henrico) — survived such a short time that, to all practical intents and purposes, Kecoughtan 
was second to Jamestown. See note 34 above. 

41. See Chapter II, note 136. 

42. Sams, op. cit., pp. 138-9, 141, 154, 156. 

43. Ibid., pp. 141-3, 168-76; Lewis & Loomie, op. cit., pp. 33, 57. 240, 245; the latter authors 
suggest a possible connection between Clarke and the captain of the Roe-Buck of the same 
name in 1587 (see Sams, op. cit., pp. 110, 138); Clarke was called "pilot of Xacan" in a 
Madrid deposition during his captivity (Lewis & Loomie, op. cit., p. 245). 

44. Sams, op. cit., p. 149. 

45. Ibid., p. 344; the wife of Thomas West, Lord Delaware, was daughter to Sir Thomas Shirley. 

46. Ibid., p. 353; Lady Yeardley was nee Temperance Flowerdew, a name that was altered in 
many ways from its original Anglo-Norman form of Plour-Dieu ; Martin's Hundred was so- 
named after Richard Martin, an attorney for the London Company (See Ibid., p. 350). 

47. Ibid., pp. 258-60, 296, 306, 419, 155, 335. 

48. Ibid., pp. 354, 449. 

49. See note 40 above. 

50. Mason, "Earliest Church of Elizabeth City Parish," pp. 18 (map), 20; Brittingham, Kicotan, 
frontispiece (map), p. 11. 

51. Sams, op. cit., pp. 347-8; Goodwin, Colonial Church, pp. 284, 293; Historic Church Silver, 
note on St. John's Church, Hampton (page unnumbered). 

52. See following Chapter for details on corporations, parishes and the First Assembly. 



Chapter IV 
The Corporation and County of Elizabeth City 


A S IT WAS pointed out in the previous chapter, the year I6I8 marks 
/% the birth of two important Virginia institutions which are, in some- 
y % what modified form, still in existence today: the county-parish 
system of local government, and the bicameral representative legislative As- 
sembly. The orders for establishing these two institutions both originated in 
the Virginia Company's London Council on 18 November I6I8, the same day 
on which Sir George Yeardley was chosen to be Governor by that Council. 
We may well imagine that Sir George was invited to attend that meeting; 
we know that, upon his appointment as Governor, he was handed instructions 
to lay out and divide the settled areas of the Colony into four corporations 
and to convene a legislative Assembly to be composed of representatives from 
those four corporations plus representatives from certain particular plantations 
and hundreds contained in them.^ 

On this important date of 18 November 1618, then, it was ordered by the 
Council in London that the Virginia Colony be divided into four great cor- 
porations— "incorporations" in the language of that day — for purposes of 
local administration, each of which was to be a parish of the Church of 
England "as by law established." The term "borough" was also frequently 
applied to these corporations but was soon almost entirely superseded by the 
latter term, in fact was used but a short time as the official name of the one 
with which the present work is chiefly concerned, as will be amplified later. 
It gave rise, however, to the usage of calling the representatives "burgesses" 
(i.e., borough inhabitants) and the lower house of the Assembly, the "House 
of Burgesses," which custom prevailed throughout Virginia's colonial period. 
This fact was noted by the historian Stith in 1747 as follows: 

... our Lower House of Assembly was first called the House of Burgesses, 
a Name proper to the Representatives of Burroughs [sic] or Towns; and it 
hath by Custom ever since retained that Appelation, although the Burgesses 
or Members for Towns or Corporations are very few and inconsiderable at 
present in Comparison with the Representatives for Counties.- 


For in Virginia, in the early days of the seventeenth century, a borough was 
not, as the term implies, a corporation or incorporated town — there were no 
charters or other articles of incorporation; it was simply a territorial division 
entitled to be represented in the Assembly. We can almost, but not quite, 
pinpoint the date of the laying out of the corporations: Yeardley arrived and 
assumed the Governorship on 19 April 1619, and appears to have carried out 
his instructions in this regard before the 28th, the date with which the sur- 
viving Company records begin; in any case, the division was accomplished 
by 31 July 1619, the date on which was convened the first Assembly, composed 
of representatives of the four Corporations and certain other plantations or 

The Corporations were organized like the Hundreds as governing units, 
each with its Commander (chief executive and military officer), its Provost 
Marshal (sheriff), and its Justices or Court of Law, though the latter were 
not formally established and operating until somewhat later. And since each 
Corporation was an ecclesiastical parish, each must have had a minister, 
churchwardens and vestry. The very nature of the duties of churchwardens 
presupposed the existence of an early church building of some kind, probably 
a rough structure as noted in the previous chapter, to serve this purpose until 
a more permanent frame or brick church could be built. In fact, all evidence 
points generally to the Jamestown pattern of church building throughout the 
other parts of the Colony in the seventeenth century: the rough "wattle-and- 
daub" shelter (1607-1617), the frame-on-brick-or-cobble-foundation church 
(1617-1630), and the rectangular or basilica type — some with buttresses — 
(1630-1700). After 1700, the elaborate cruciform church came into vogue, 
though this did not apply to Jamestown, which lost its ecclesiastical impor- 
tance with its political importance in 1699.* 

The existing records are silent on the subject of the exact bounds of the 
original four Corporations ; in fact, it is doubtful that any were assigned except 
in a vague and general sort of way. The early plantations or settlements 
hugged the shores of the River James and its estuary (now called Hampton 
Roads), because any distance from this comparatively safe artery of trans- 
portation was "Indian country" and not to be penetrated unadvisedly. Hence, 
when these territorial divisions were planned in 1619, it is to be assumed 
in the absence of specific contrary evidence that they were designated merely 
as the settled areas touching the banks of this main water course and on 
both sides of the same. Thus the area immediately adjacent to Jamestown 
(which now became the Capital with the more imposing name of James City) 
upstream and downstream, and across the river, was designated as the Cor- 
poration of James City. To the west or upstream, the settled area was divided 
into two parts: the one touching James City being called the Corporation of 
Charles City (a name it had borne as a hundred after first being called 


Bermuda or Nether Hundred) up to and including the New Bermudas of 
1611; and the other extending thence for an undetermined distance to the 
west and named the Corporation of the City of Hampton (no connection 
with the present City of Hampton) including Henrick's (1611) or the Upper 
Hundred of 1613- The area adjacent to James City on the east — like the others 
taking in both sides of the River — was called the Corporation of the Borough 
of Kiccowtan (Kecoughtan), settled since 1610. Two of these corporate names 
did not long survive: the name of the City of Hampton was very soon 
changed to the City of Henricus (translation of Heuricopolis, whence the 
shortened form Henrico, still in use today as a county name). As to the other 
name change, one of the first acts of the first session of the Assembly, 31 July 
1619, was to address a petition to the Virginia Company requesting a change 
in the "Savage name of Kecoughtan, and to give that Incorporation a new 
name." This implies that the names of the Corporations had originated in 
London. Be that as it may, the request was granted and we read in the records 
on 17 May 1620 that, by order of the Council, "the ancient [former] Borough 
of Kiccowtan hereafter shall be called Elizabeth City by the name of His 
Majesties \_sic'\ most vertuous and renowned daughter."^ It is of passing in- 
terest that the names of the four Corporations, as finally fixed, honored King 
James I and his three children: Prince Henry, Prince Charles, and Princess 
Elizabeth, just as previously had the earliest geographical names bestowed by 
the Jamestown Colonists: James River, Cape Henry, Cape Charles, and Eliza- 
beth River. It is to be noted also that the first river north of the James 
was called at first "Prince Henry's River" (1608), which was changed to 
Charles River (presumably after the death of the elder prince in 1612), which 
latter name it retained until being given its present name of York (c. 1643).* 
Of course, the names of the James and the Elizabeth Rivers remain unchanged 

The present volumes are concerned chiefly with the history of the territory 
covered by only one of these four: the Borough of Kecoughtan or Corporation 
of Elizabeth City. As stated above, we do not know the precise bounds of the 
corporation, and we can only say that it covered all the settled portion of 
river bank and shore line eastward from James City to the sea. It remains, 
therefore — in order to determine what area was included in the latter Cor- 
portation — to fix its eastern boundary; all area to the east of such a line would 
necessarily be in Elizabeth City. It is known that what later became Warwick 
River County (until recently the City of Warwick) was originally a part of 
Elizabeth City Corporation," and with that we agree; so that the boundary of 
Elizabeth City on the north side of James River would be at Keith's Creek, 
a name later corrupted to — and now known as — Skiffes Creek. On the other 
side of James River is the area now known as Isle of Wight County, which 
most writers assign as part of James City;* with this we disagree, though the 


contrary cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, it must be admitted. 
We might expect some light to be thrown on the subject by the land grants, 
which survive back to 1620, though the first few years contain many lacunae. 
However, it is to be noted that while the land grants localize many tracts in 
the four Corporations by name, they also give locations in such places as 
Tappahannah, Old Point Comfort, Newport News, Kecoughtan and War- 
risqueek or Warrosquyoake (Isle of Wight) ; all of which indicates a certam 
inconsistency in the use of names known to have been without official standing 
beside those of the Corporations.^ There is also the list known as "Extracts 
of all Titles and Estates of Land" submitted by Governor Sir Francis Wyatt 
in 1626, listing by name and acreage the then holders of land patents in 
Virginia.^" Since this list was arranged by Corporations from west to east, 
it might be expected that the problem would be solved, but here again we 
are doomed to disappointment: under the heading "Corporation of James 
City" were listed not only the landowners on the Jamestown side and on the 
Tappahannah side just opposite, but also those in what were later Warwick 
and Isle of Wight counties. Now, it has been established beyond reasonable 
doubt, that Warwick was originally a part of Elizabeth City Corporation. 
That being so, Isle of Wight or Warrosquyoake must have been also, for it 
is not likely that all the boundaries between the Corporations on the two 
sides of the river would be approximately opposite, except that one between 
Elizabeth City and James City, south of the river. A glance at a modern map 
of Virginia showing county lines will clarify this statement considerably. Note 
that the line between James City and Charles City (the Chickahominy River) 
IS not far removed from the one between their opposite areas, now respectively 
Surry and Prince George; note also, that the line between Charles City and 
Henrico is almost exactly extended between their opposite areas, now Prince 
George and Chesterfield, respectively (it is to be remembered that Bermuda 
Hundred was originally in Charles City). Therefore, the line between James 
City and Elizabeth City Corporations, being at Keith's (Skiffes) Creek on 
the north side of James River, it is reasonable to suppose that their boundary 
on the south side was Lawne's Creek, the present line between Isle of Wight 
and Surry, and this puts Isle of Wight in the Corporation of Elizabeth City. 
It was stated above that Elizabeth City extended from James City east- 
ward to the sea, but this point must be qualified also. The Wyatt list of I626, 
mentioned above, contains a curious and interesting statement: under the 
heading "Eastern Shore," it is stated that though certain tenants had been 
planted there, no patents had been granted and "no land ordered to be laid 
out for them, as in the other jour corporations."^'^ The italics are ours. This 
implies that while all the colonial territory was supposed to be included in the 
four corporations, the Eastern Shore, being slightly removed from the others, 
was considered a sort of extra-territorial area and not actually a part of any 


one of them. At any rate, there was never any question of including the 
Eastern Shore in the present study, that area having been previously covered 
in a recent important work under the imprint of the present publishers.'- 

Thus, the exclusion of Eastern Shore from these volumes is logical, and 
the question of whether or not Isle of Wight (and its daughter, Southampton) 
were a part of the corporation of Elizabeth City, is purely academic: for the 
purposes of this story of Lower Tidewater Virginia, it is being considered that 
the Corporation of Elizabeth City includes the area of the later counties of 
Elizabeth City, Warwick, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Nansemond, Norfolk 
and Princess Anne, and the cities which were later carved from or superseded 
these counties. The events and circumstances of these fifteen years will be 
considered under six general headings: (a) The Hundreds and Particular 
Plantations, (b) the Judicial Districts and Inferior Courts, (c) the Established 
Church and its Parishes, (d) Corporation, Plantation and Parish representa- 
tion in the Assembly, (e) Early Landowners and their Holdings, (f) Ancient 

The Hundreds and Particular Plantations 

The Hundred, as a territorial division in England, is said to have originated 
at the time of Alfred, the Great, but went back much further into the misty 
beginnings of Teutonic law and custom. Alfred is reported to have divided 
the Kingdom in the late ninth century into shires, hundreds and tithings, a 
tithing being a community of ten freeholders and their families; ten tithings 
composed a hundred — whence the name — which was subordinate in size to 
the shire. Some authorities have suggested that the term referred to its 
physical size of one-hundred acres or one-hundred hides (of one hundred and 
twenty acres each), though, even from the beginning, they were not of 
uniform size in England. In Virginia, we can only conclude that the designation 
"hundred" was used to refer to an area inferior in size to a shire or county, 
simply because it was traditionally so used in England; there was certainly 
no regularity in size here either in number of families or in acreage, for some 
of the Virginia hundreds included as many as eighty thousand acres. ^* 

Another kind of early settlement in the Colony was the "particular 
plantation," though in many instances the differentiation between them and the 
hundreds seems to have been one of terminology only. It might be said that, of 
the settlements bearing the name "Hundred," some were established by the 
Virginia Company itself and some by individuals or associations of individuals, 
whereas those bearing the name "Plantation" or other designation, were with- 
out exception of the latter particular or privately-owned type. This kind of 
settlement arose through necessity when the funds of the Company were 
exhausted, and certain of its shareholders joined themselves together in 
Societies to establish plantations on their own." We saw in the previous 

Va. 6 


chapter how, in addition to the four Company settlements which became the 
nuclei of the Corporations (Jamestown, Kecoughtan, Henricus, New Ber- 
mudas), fourteen other settlements — some called Hundreds and some not — 
came into existence before the First Assembly met in 1619. Of these fourteen, 
only seven seem to have been sufficiently populated to have been represented 
in the Assembly, and at its first meeting on 30 July 1619, its lower house was 
composed of twenty-two members,^^ two from each Corporation and from each 
of the following Particular Plantations: 

Smith's Hundred 

Argall's Gift 

Captain Ward's Plantation 

Martin's Brandon, Captain John Martin's Plantation 

Martin's Hundred 

Flowerdew Hundred 

Captain Lawne's Plantation 

Of all these, only two were in Lower Tidewater 'Virginia: the Company settle- 
ment at Kecoughtan, which became the Corporation of Elizabeth City and 
Captain Lawne's Plantation. Established 17 April 1619, by Captain Christopher 
Lawne and associates, the latter was located in the region known as War- 
rosquyoake, adjacent to the creek which still bears Lawne's name, the present 
boundary between Isle of Wight and Surry Counties. Captain Lawne died in 
1620, and in November of that year, the patent was renewed by his heirs 
and former associates under the name of Isle of Wight Plantation. The Indian 
name stuck to the region, however, and we shall see that it was not until 
after the counties were founded, that the English name gained official status.^® 

Several other particular plantations came into existence during the early 
years of the Corporation of Elizabeth City. On 4 November 1619, arrived 
Captain Thomas Newce in the Bona Nova with one hundred and twenty per- 
sons, and was seated on six-hundred acres of Company or Common land at 
Elizabeth City. This was probably on the east side of Hampton River (now 
Creek), and it was noted in the records that the inhabitants of Kecoughtan 
had to be persuaded to move thence to their own "dividends" (allotted 
acreage) "along the banke of the great river between Kequohtan and New- 
portes News . . ." This Council minute of 11 November 1619, represents the 
first mention of the latter locality on record, and once more raises the question 
as to whether the original settlement at Kecoughtan in 1610 may not have 
been east of Hampton Creek. Captain Thomas Newce died in 1623." 

In 1621, one-thousand acres near the northwest end of Mulberry Island 
(present site of the Army post of Fort Eustis) were granted to Sir George 
Yeardley, and thus the important plantation known as Stanley Hundred came 
into being. Sir George died in 1627, and on 9 February 1627/8, his widow 


sold Stanley Hundred to Lieutenant Thomas Flint. The latter had possession 
not quite a year, and on 20 January 1628/9, was recorded the sale of the 
one-thousand-acre tract by Thomas Flint and his wife, Mary, to John Brewer, 

In the early part of 1621, William Newce of Bandon, County Cork, 
brother of Thomas, was appointed to the newly-created post of Marshal of 
Virginia, was knighted, and was promised a grant of fifteen hundred acres in 
return for his engagement to transport one thousand persons to Virginia. 
Sir William was extremely ill upon his arrival in early October of 1622, and 
""did not above two days survive the readinge of his Pattent . . ." The location 
of his intended plantation has not been determined.'* 

In November of 1621, arrived Daniel Gookin of County Cork in the 
Flying Harte, which had been chartered by him, accompanied by nearly a 
hundred others. He was seated on a tract of thirteen hundred acres at "New- 
port News;" in official correspondence on the subject it was stated: ". . . we 
doe conceave great hope (if the Irish plantacione prosper) yet from Ireland 
greate multitudes of People will be like to come hither." This implies that the 
William Newce tract may have been in the same locality. Gookin's planta- 
tion was a little above Point Hope (present Boat Harbor) , probably in the 
general vicinity of the C. & O. terminal, and in honor of his wife, nee Mary 
Bird, was called Marie's Mount. We surmise that this spelling was simply 
an archaic variant of the name Mary, and not intended to be pronounced in 
the French fashion. In the Great Massacre of 22 March 1621/2, Gookin's 
plantation was one of the hardest hit. Gookin himself is said to have been 
the first to bring the news to England, arriving there in the Sea Flower in 
May, 1623. There is some doubt as to whether he himself returned to Virginia, 
but his two sons, Daniel and John, did establish themselves here. Very soon 
more colonists were sent out at Gookin's expense, and in June, 1623, one of 
them wrote that on arrival he found "'. . . the Governor [Sir Francis Wyatt] 
and his lady at Mr. Gookin's Plantacion: But of all Mr. Gookin's men which 
he had sent out the last yeare, we found but seven: beeing all killed by the 
Indians and the Plantacion ready to fall to decay." The new arrivals saw to 
it that this did not happen, and the Gookins remained there for many years. 
In 1633, a Dutch ship captain wrote that he had anchored at '"Newport Snuw" 
where lived a gentleman named "Goegen:" this was Daniel, Jr.-" 

This might be a good point to pause and say something about the name 
Newport News and the misconceptions which have arisen concerning its 
origin.^' Of all the suggestions (and there have been many), three seem to 
have enjoyed most popularity: (a) that it was in some way connected by some 
good news which Captain Christopher Newport may have brought at the 
time of the abandonment of Jamestown in June, 1610; (b) that it was a com- 
bination of the names of Newport and Newce; and (c) that it was named 


New Port Newce for a hypothetical Port Newce or Newcetown in Ireland, 
home of the Newce's. At the time the good news of Lord Delaware's arrival 
was brought to the starving Colony, Newport was one of those to receive it, 
having just arrived on his fourth voyage the month before, so the good news 
could hardly have been "Newport's News." In the second place, the name 
"Newportes News" [sk'j was first recorded in the Council records on 11 No- 
vember 1619, when it was a well-known locality and needed no explanation 
as to location. Captain Thomas Newce had been there only a week, and it 
hardly seems likely he could have a had a part in its naming. Moreover, the 
connection with Newport seems vague, since he hadn't been in Virginia 
since 1611, and died in Java in 1617; even though his heirs had land which 
had been due him in Virginia, there is no indication that it was at Newport 
News. It might be mentioned that Captain Thomas Newce came in the Bo>ia 
Nova — "Good News" — in I619!! In the third place, all references in the 
records to the native heath of the Newces mention Bandon and County Cork 
(Bandon is twenty miles southwest of Cork itself), but no town named for 
them is referred to. One source mentions, as an example of early association 
of the name Newport with news, the ballad by R. Rich published in London 
in 1610 entitled 

News from Virginia 

of the Happy Arrivall of that famous and worthy Knight Sir Thomas Gates 
and well reputed and valiant Capitaine Newport into England, 
the first stanza of which we quote: 

It is no idle fabulous tale, 

nor is it fayned news: 
For Truth herselfe is heere arriv'd 

because you should not muse. 
With her, both Gates and Newport come, 

to tell Report doth lye: 
Which did divulge unto the world, 

that they at sea did dye. 

Be it remembered that Gates and Newport arrived back in England in Sep- 
tember, 1610, nine years before "Newportes News" was mentioned in 
Virginia Company records. There is still no certain explanation for the origin 
of the name. 

In 1622, two more particular plantations were established in the upper 
part of Elizabeth City, which was to become Warwick. A tract of seventeen 
hundred acres there was assigned to John Rolfe, Captain William Pierce 
(Pearse) and some other associated individuals.-- This was on Mulberry Island 
at its upper end above Stanley Hundred, and adjoined land close to Keith's 


(Skiffes) Creek on the other side of which was Martin's Hundred in the 
Corporation of James City. 

The other settlement of 1622 in this locality was Denbigh Plantation. Once 
owned by Abraham Peirsey, the "Cape-Merchant" (in charge of Company 
stores and supplies), Denbigh passed to Captain Samuel Mathews after 
Peirsey died in 1628, by virtue of Mathews' marriage to the widow Peirsey. 
It was located in the northwest angle between Deep Creek and Warwick 
River, where, until very recently, there was a village of the same name which 
lost its official identity with the incorporation of Warwick (1952) and its 
consolidation with Newport News (1958). Denbigh Plantation was described 
in detail by a traveller in 1634, who said Captain Mathews "lived bravely" 
and "kept a good house." He had many servants, and much cattle, poultry 
and hogs, a spinning house, weaving house, dairy, tannery and cobbler shop; 
there was also a church on the plantation a little later, as we shall see. In 
fact, this might be considered as typical of the particular plantations, which 
were in effect self-contained and self-sustaining manors like those organized 
on the feudal plan in medieval England.'^ 

Two more settlements on the south side of James River were made in 
1622, which, with Isle of Wight Plantation, already mentioned, took up the 
whole of the river bank in what was to become Warrosquyoake County: these 
were tracts taken up in the names of Bennett and Basse. Edward Bennett's 
Plantation was on a tract of twenty-five hundred acres and was known as "the 
Rocks." This place is said much later to have become the home of the Lawsons, 
a fact which is mentioned here solely because the locality can be thus identified 
on any modern map, north of Pagan Creek and Smithfield.^* Captain Nathaniel 
Basse's plantation, below Pagan Creek, was called "Basse's Choice"* and 
probably took in the rest of Warrosquyoake waterfront below Bennett's. In 
the muster taken at Basse's Choice in 1624, there appears a name which will 
be of interest in the following chapter: it is that of Benjamin Syms, a member 
of the household of Thomas Bennett, whose precise connection with the other 
Bennett has not been determined.^* 

The Warrosquyoake plantations, like Gookin's, were hard hit in the 
Massacre of March, 1621/2. In the listed total of three hundred and seventy- 
four slain (which many believe a low estimate), there is shown an item of 
fifty at Edward Bennett's. Likewise, Basse's house was burned and an un- 
determined number of people killed there. Others in the same neighborhood 
fared better: a man named Baldwin saved his wife and several others, and 
Thomas Hamor (brother of Ralph), who had taken refuge at Harrison's not 

* This picturesque name calls to mind many such plantation names — some riming, some alliter- 
ative, some allusive — which came into use in the early days of the seventeenth century: for example, 
Archer's Hope, Argall's Gift, Dale's Gift, Chaplin's Choice, Pace's Pains, Jordan's Journey, Marys 
Mount, Cawse's Care, Beggar's Bush, Hope-in-Faith, etc. 


far from Baldwin's, saved many of his followers; both Baldwin and Hamor 
accomplished these feats by puttmg up strong resistance to the savages.-'' As 
in other localities in the Colony, the Indians here did not go unpunished. Ex- 
peditions against the Warrosquyoakes in January and July of 1623, led 
respectively by Sir George Yeardley (commander of Southampton, formerly 
Smith's Hundred) and Captain William Tucker (commander of Kecoughtan), 
broke their power and drove out the remnants of the tribe. A fort was ordered 
built there in 1623 to command the channel of the river; if carried out, the 
fort was probably on the point above Pagan Creek, but this is pure surmise.^^ 
While they were not (strictly speaking) a particular plantation, mention 
should be made here of the holdings of a very important personage, Captain 
William Tucker; he was, as will appear elsewhere, commander of Kecoughtan, 
Burgess, Councillor and Justice. He owned two of the choicest sites in the 
lower reaches of the James and its estuary, one hundred and fifty acres on 
Tucker's Creek (now Boat Harbor) at Newport News Point, and six hundred 
and fifty acres, a little over a square mile, on what was later Seawell's Point. 
By strange coincidence, on these sites, both patented in 1620, were the termini 
of the now-defunct Norfolk-Newport News vehicular ferry. In the grant 
for the Tucker's Creek site, it was noted that Captain Tucker was commander 
of Kecoughtan (probably here intended for the whole Corporation of Elizabeth 
City), and that the tract granted was due him for the transportation out of 
England of his wife's three brothers, George, Paul and William Tompson 
[sic']. The patent for the larger tract at Seawell's Point did not survive in the 
records, but is definitely referred to in a deed of much later date."* Details 
concerning individual landholders will be given in a later section of this 

The Judicial Districts and Inferior Courts 

The first Virginia Company charter of April, 1606, and the Ordinance and 
Plan of Government of the following November, made provision that the 
President and Council of State in Virginia (later the President was replaced 
by the Governor or Lieutenant Governor) were to constitute a Court of Law, 
the only judicial body in the Colony; it was later called the General Court 
and still later, when inferior courts had been set up, the Quarter Court, since 
it met only four times a year. As previously pointed out, it was originally 
intended that each plantation should have a Hundred Court. Such a court in 
England was subordinate to the Shire Court or County Assizes, and it is 
quite possible that such was the plan for Virginia later when the Counties 
should be established, though no record of a Hundred Court has survived.-^ 
It has been said that monthly inferior courts were established by Governor 
Yeardley in 1619 under the Ordinance and Constitution of 18 November 
1618, the same that authorized the laying out of the four Corporations and 


the convening of the first Assembly.^" It is true that this Ordinance Usted as 
one of the duties of the Governor and Council the maintenance of justice, 
and both Council and Assembly were enjoined to follow the policy of law 
and justice used in England, which might be interpreted as instructions to 
establish inferior courts. In any case, no record of their establishment at that 
time (1619)^ — or in 1622, as Beverley wrote — has been found. The first 
definite and certain knowledge of such courts does not come until a few 
years later. 

In the Assembly convened on 5 March 1623/4 — the first since since 1619 
for which records have been preserved — it was ordered that a Court be held 
once a month in the Corporation of Elizabeth City and Charles City.*^ These 
courts were to have limited jurisdiction, their sentences decided by majority 
vote, and the Commanders of the several plantations were to be "of the 
quorum."* It has already been noted that Captain William Tucker was 
Commander of Kecoughtan, so he would have been a member of this court, 
if it actually was held, which is not confirmed by any record. The reason for 
the establishment of these monthly inferior courts — the one above and the 
other below James City — is obvious: in this way, causes of a minor nature 
could be decided locally and without the necessity of the delay and bother 
of a burdensome trip to the Capital. 

There is another gap in the records after the March Assembly in 1623/4, 
and the next session for which minutes and laws have been preserved met on 
20 March 1628/9,*" so no details are known as to the Courts during that 
period. As the Assembly convened on the latter date, commissions were issued 
to Commanders and Principal Commanders of Plantations, among which were 
two of especial interest to our story: Lieutenant Edward Waters was Com- 
mander of plantations from Southampton River (Hampton Creek) to Fox 
Hill (a locality still so-called, on a branch of Back River north of Buckroe 
Beach), and Captain Thomas Perfury* was Principal Commander in the 
Corporation of Elizabeth City. This indicates that the Commanders of the 
several Corporations had subordinate district commanders under them. 

In the records of the Assembly last referred to, there is mentioned an 
Order in Council of 7 March 1628/9 to hold monthly courts in some of the 
more remote plantations, here designated as Elizabeth City and the ""Upper 
Parts" (meaning Henrico and Charles City). The appointments of Com- 
missioners (Justices) were listed and the following given for Elizabeth City: 

Captain Thomas Purfury 
Lieutenant Edward Waters 

* A term originating in the Latin plirasing of such a commission: quorum aliquem vestrum . . . 
unum esse volumus, "of whom we wish some one of you to be one;" i.e. a justice who of neces- 
sity had to be present in order that court might be held. (Webster) 

*A name distorted in many ways — even once written "Purifie"!!! — as will be seen in what 
follows. I feel certain it is intended for the Anglo-Norman "Purefoy." 


Lieutenant Thomas Willoughby 
Lieutenant George Thomson 
Mr. Adam Thorowgood 
Mr. Lyonell Coulston 
Mr. WiUiam Kempe 
Mr. John Downman 

It was further provided that Captain Purfury or Lieutenant Waters were "to 
be alwaies one," meaning they were to be justices of the quorum in the sense 
previously noted. There are preserved no records of the Courts appointed at 
this time, if indeed they ever met. 

The proceedings of the next two Assemblies — convened on 16 October 
1629 and 24 March 1629/30 — contain no reference to monthly courts. It was 
not until the following session that they were referred to again. At the 
Assembly convened on 21 February 1631/2,^^ there was recorded a reference 
back to the former order of 5 March 1623/4 (see above), and on 1 March 
1631/2 this Assembly ordered that "monthlie courts be held in the remote 
parts of the Colony," but this time there were to be five (instead of two) 
outside of Jamestown. Might it be implied from this that no courts had yet 
been held? At any rate, we are not here concerned with those in the "Upper 
Parts" or "precincts of Charles City and Henrico," or in Accawmack, but here 
are the names of Justices appointed for the other three Courts, which were 
in Lower Tidewater: 

Warwick River Captain Samuel Mathewes, quorum. 

Captain Richard Stephens, quorum. 

Captain Thomas Flint. 

John Brewer, gent. 

Zacharie Cripps, gent. 

Thomas Ceely, gent. 
Warrosquyoake Captain Nathaniel Basse, quorum. 

Thomas Jorden. 

Richard Bennett, gent. 

William Hutchinson, gent. 

John Upton, gent. 
Elizabeth City Captain William Tucker, quorum. 

William English, gent. 

Captain Thomas Purifie, quorum. 

George Downes, gent. 

Captain Thomas Willoughby. 

John Arundell, gent. 

Adam Thorowgood, gent. 

In the records of the Assembly session of 4 September 1632, reference 
was again made to the Order of 5 March 1623/4, and it was again ordered 


that five monthly courts be held as before specified, thus reiterating the previ- 
ous provisions.** The question again arises as to whether the courts had 
actually been held, for there were still no surviving records. At this time the 
Justices for Elizabeth City and Warwick River were the same as those ap- 
pointed above, but for Warrosquyoake there was one change: Captain Robert 
Fellgate replaced Basse, though not of the quorum as the latter had been, 
and since Richard Bennett* was now listed in the first place, it is to be assumed 
that he was of the quorum and Presiding Justice. This time it is known with 
certainty that the Courts were established and did function, though unfor- 
tunately not from those appointed for Lower Tidewater. Only one of the five 
has its original records preserved practically intact, and that was the Court 
designated for Accawmack; all the others, including those of the General 
Court in James City, have succumbed to the vicissitudes of war and con- 
flagration. In the little town of Eastville, county seat of Northampton County 
(the original County of Accawmack was changed to this name in 1642, and 
the present county of Accomack is a later carving from it) are to be seen 
these oldest continuous county records in British America. The first entry in 
this ancient volume is dated 7 January 1632/3, but is preceded by the remnant 
of a previous entry, so that it is obvious a few pages are missing.^^ It has been 
suggested that the first entry may have been in July, 1632, but it seems more 
likely to guess a later date after the Act of 4 September 1632 in view of the 
wording of the latter. Be that as it may, in contemplating these invaluable 
original manuscript records, we may be pardoned for regretfully thinking of 
the similar lost volumes which must have been started at about the same 
time: those of the ""Upper Parts," of Warrosquyoake, of Warwick River, and 
of Elizabeth City. If we might be permitted another guess, that as to where 
these Courts were held in Lower Tidewater, we would say at Denbigh 
Plantation on Warwick River, at Bennett's Plantation in Warrosquyoake, and 
at Kecoughtan. There were no Court Houses this early. 

The Established Church and its Parishes 

It is not intended here to go into detail concerning the position of the 
Church of England in colonial Virginia: this has been done by many far 
more learned in the subject than the present writer. However, there are certain 
elementary facts that must be borne in mind for purposes of a complete 
understanding of the situation, facts that are so obvious as to be at times 
completely disregarded. The Church of England was established by law in 
Virginia as it was in the Mother Country. This means that it was to all 
intents and purposes a department of the government, the one which had 
jurisdiction over the religious life of all citizens without exception, just as the 

* Said to be a nephew of Edward Bennett, previously mentioned. 


courts and law enforcement agencies had control over their secular life. All 
the charters granted to the Colony had clauses with provisions for its estab- 
lishment, and countless Acts of Assembly and orders of local courts related 
to its administration and functions and to the responsibilities and duties of 
the people toward it. Although a measure of religious freedom was achieved 
before the end of the seventeenth century, adherence to the Anglican com- 
munion remained throughout the colonial period of Virginia, a prerequisite 
to the exercise of political rights and holding of public office as well as to 
the enjoyment of the social and educational privileges that were available. 

Virginia was in theory a part of the diocese of the Bishop of London and 
under his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. But London was far away and frequently 
the episcopal functions had to be exercised by the Governor. As local admin- 
istrative and judicial divisions were set up here, so at the same time ecclesi- 
astical units or parishes were established coterminous with them, though 
sometimes subdivided for convenience. We have already seen how each of 
the four earliest settlements had its church and minister, corresponding in 
jurisdiction approximately with the geographical areas that later became the 
Corporations. We have also seen, and will continue to see, how in each 
hundred and particular plantation, a plantation parish was established, which 
developed into the corporation parish, and much later into the county parish 
or parishes. 

Each parish was in theory supplied with a minister, though some were 
occasionally vacant and sometimes a single minister served more than one 
parish. The parish affairs were administered by the churchwardens and vestry, 
a board of the most influential parishioners, and the existence of former — by 
the very nature of their duties — presupposes the existence of a church building. 
Very important in every parish was the glebe; this term, from a Latin word 
meaning "earth" or "land," came to mean specifically "in ecclesiastical law 
the land devoted to the maintenance of the incumbent [minister] of a church 
. . . the assigning of them at the first was of such absolute necessity that 
without them no church could be regularly consecrated."^" As particularly 
applied to Virginia, the glebe was the parish farm and the minister lived on 
it and worked it through farm laborers or tenants for the support of himself 
and his family. In Lower Tidewater there grew up five plantation parishes 
between 1619 and 1634, which became county parishes after the counties 
were established: they were located (a) at Kecoughtan, (b) above Newport 
News, at Nutmeg Quarter, (c) at Denbigh Plantation, (d) at Stanley 
Hundred, and (e) at Warrosquyoake. We shall give an account of these five 
parishes, their ministers and churches, in that order. 

It has already been pointed out that there was a minister at Kecoughtan 
quite early, the Reverend William Mease, although the exact dates of his 
stay there are in doubt. His statement on oath in 1623 in the Virginia 


Company's records: "I, William Mease, minister having lived ten years in 
Virginia . . ." could have been made in London or in Virginia. It seems more 
likely that he had left Virginia by that time, since a Council order of 10 Oc- 
tober 1624 states that Reverend George Keith and Reverend Thomas White 
had been successively "minister of the Corporation of Elizabeth Cyttie." This 
and other statements in the order clearly indicate also that corporation and 
parish were considered coterminous, but the further mdication that the 
Reverend Jonas Stogden* had been appointed minister of part of the Cor- 
poration, "in regard the said parish is much enlarged," tells of the division 
of the Parish of Kecoughtan. For the former Indian name of the Corporation 
was still used in grants of this time as the name of the parish. Mr. Stogden 
seems to have been assigned to the part between Tucker's Creek (Boat Harbor) 
and Hampton Creek; he had land of his own on the latter, and had died 
before the end of 1628.^' In addition to the above ministers, there was also 
the Reverend Francis Bolton who is said to have been in Elizabeth City from 
1621 to 1623. Mr. White died in 1624, and the matter is further complicated 
by the fact that a "Mr. Minister Fenton" died in Elizabeth City in the same 
year.^* It must be remembered that the three parishes on James River, north 
of Newport News, were separately established until 1628 or later; of all 
the five ministers who followed the Reverend Mr. Mease in Elizabeth City, 
Stogden is the only one whose exact locality is known, though it should be 
pointed out that the 1626 list of patents (above-mentioned) shows Mr. Keith 
owned one hundred acres south of and adjoining the Glebe, which was itself 
south of and adjoining Newport News or Gookin's plantation of Marie's 
Mount."*^ Another Glebe nearer Hampton Creek was mentioned in the previous 
chapter in the account of the early church of 1613 or thereabouts. 

An act of the Assembly of March, 1623/4, required that a house or room 
be set aside for divine worship on each plantation, also a "place impaled 
sequestered only to the buryal of the dead." It is evident that this law was 
being enforced, by reason of another Council order of 10 October 1624 re- 
ferring to the construction of a church in Elizabeth City. At that time Captain 
William Tucker, as Commander of the Corporation, was ordered to have the 
executors of William Gauntlet and Edward Waters, churchwardens, to account 
for collections for the church building, which were to go toward paying wages 
of the laborers. This is the earliest indication of who the churchwardens were 
here. The site of this second church in Elizabeth City is on the east bank of 
Hampton Creek, north and east of U.S. Route 60, just short of where it 
crosses the creek to enter Hampton proper. Until quite recently it was thought 
that this was the first Elizabeth City church, but some late research on the 

* Stockton, Stockham. 


subject has disproved this theory, as was pointed out in the last chapter. The 
State Highway historical marker on this site is, unfortunately, in error/" 

It will be recalled that mention was made at the end of Chapter III of the 
ancient pieces of church silver which are now in the possession of the Church 
in Hampton. Sir Thomas Smith "did not choose" to stand for re-election as 
treasurer of the Virginia Company and his long tenure ended in April, 1619. 




After about a year, in which Sir Edwin Sandys held the office, Henry 
Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, was elected treasurer in June, 1620, and 
so continued until the dissolution of the Company in 1624. Southampton had 
long been interested in the Virginia venture, was one of the Company's 
shareholders, and was incidentally a patron of the great Shakespeare. Just 
a little before his election (May, 1620), the name of Smith's Hundred was 
changed to Southampton Hundred, probably indicating a transfer of shares 
in that investment. After the massacre of March, 1621/2, this settlement was 
never again represented in the House of Burgesses and its inhabitants were 
settled elsewhere. The public property of the Hundred (which included the 
furnishings of Saint Mary's Church) were left in the custody of Sir George 
Yeardley, Captain of the Hundred. Upon his death in 1627, Lady Yeardley 


delivered this silver to the General Court "for the use of Southampton Hun- 
dred Church." This seems to indicate that there might have been some idea 
of transferring the name to a Company plantation on "Southampton River" 
(later shortened to Hampton River and now called Hampton Creek) a name 
which appeared first in patent records about the middle of 1624, a little before 
the new Elizabeth City church was built. At any rate, a chalice and two 
patens (illustrated here) are now in the possession of Saint John's Church, 
Hampton, which occupies the fourth colonial church building in Elizabeth 

One other early mention of this Kecoughtan church of 1624 is of interest: 
the minutes of the General Court of 8 April 1629 show that "the Church- 
wardens of the P[ar]ishe of the lower P[ar]tes of Elizabeth Citty did present 
William Cappe and John Sipse[y} for not frequenting of the Parish Church."** 
That the "lower parts" referred to were between Old Point and Back River is 
evident from later grants, and the Corporation was represented in the As- 
sembly in two parts as will be shown in our later section on burgesses. It is unfor- 
tunate for our story that the churchwardens were not mentioned in the last cited 
Court order. The wording of this order might need a word of explanation: 
it was one of the duties of churchwardens to "present" offenders to the 
Court, i.e., to lay their case before the Court as an object of inquiry and pos- 
sible punishment. There are a few biographical details known about three of 
the ministers mentioned, which may interest the reader. The Reverend Francis 
Bolton, B.A., King's College (Cantab.) 1613/4, was vicar of Goodeston, 
county Norfolk, before coming to Virginia in 1621; after leaving Elizabeth 
City he served Hunger's Parish in Accawmack (1623-1630), and was then 
minister at James City for an unknown length of time. The Reverend George 
Keith was a minister in Bermuda and some say he came to Virginia as early 
as 1617; he was reputed to be a Puritan, and one source states he was minister 
also in Martin's Hundred plantation parish in 1624, in James City, just across 
Keith's Creek. The Reverend Jonas Stogden of Warwickshire matriculated 
at Brasenose College (Oxon.) in 1605/6 at the age of seventeen; he came 
to the Colony in 1621 and was at first probably in Henrico.*' 

Very meager are the details about the early existence of the parish which 
later came to be known as Nutmeg Quarter. This was the name of a planta- 
tion on Waters' Creek which was represented a few years later in the House 
of Burgesses, as will appear below. The late George C. Mason surmised that 
the name originated through the seventeenth century usage of the word 
"nutmeg" to apply to any of the lauraceous or other plants having distinctly 
aromatic fruit, bark, leaves or roots, especially the sassafras and wax myrtle 
(bayberry), which abound in Tidewater Virginia. It appears from a General 
Court order of 4 March 1628 [should this be 1628/9?] that the Reverend 
George Keith, above-mentioned, was then recently returned from England 


(where he had been for some unspecified reason) to find his former place 
filled; for this reason the Court "hath thought fitt to order that those new 
plantations scituate betweene Marie's Mount and Waters his Creeke bee for 
the tyme beeing ioyned into one P[ar]ishe and Contribute to the main- 
teynance of Mr. Keth such tythes and dueties as shall be belonging to him." 
It has already been pointed out that Marie's Mount (Gookin's plantation) 
was just above Newport News Point; Waters' Creek has now been partially 
dammed to form Lake Maury at the Mariners' Museum. Since Mr. Stogden 
was minister of the Upper Parish of Elizabeth City in 1624, we must conclude 
that Mr. Keith had previously had the Lower Parish. Geographically speaking 
"lower" indicates that which is nearer the sea, and not — as Mason suggested — 
the part which had been settled first. It has been pointed out that Nutmeg 
Quarter's life as a separate parish extended beyond the life of Elizabeth City 
as a Corporation; in view of that fact and the fact that it had a regularly 
assigned minister, it seems likely there was some provision for a place for 
services, whether a church building or simply a room. In any case, no record of 
such church or other facility for Nutmeg Quarter has survived.^^ 

As noted earlier, Denbigh Plantation was patented as early as 1622. While 
there is no direct reference on record to a church there until 1635, the planta- 
tion parish and a church building must have existed much earlier than that, 
probably dating from about the time Mathews took over die plantation in 
1628 or earlier. Not so long ago the foundation remains of a very early 
church were discovered on Warwick River just opposite the lower end of 
Mulberry Island and on a tidal marsh still traditionally called Church Creek.** 
It has been generally accepted that this was the site of the first Denbigh 
church, possibly dating from as early as 1627 or 1628, but other particulars 
as to its history are lacking. It may be that one of the ministers previously 
mentioned, whose exact location is not known, was officiating here; this is, 
of course, pure surmise. 

Of the plantation parish church of Stanley Hundred, more certain in- 
formation is available. The first recorded mention of it is in a land grant of 
8 September 1627 for a tract on the south side of Warw'ick River, which 
mentions "the Churcli there erected and built." The exact site is near the 
upper end of Mulberry Island at a place called Baker's Neck on a small creek. 
A record in the General Court at James City of 18 November of the same 
year, tells that the minister and churchwardens of Stanley Hundred had de- 
livered to the Court "presentments" and the required register of marriages, 
burials, and christenings. This indicates such a high degree of organization 
that it may have dated back before 1627. Presentments to the Court were also 
recorded by the churchwardens in 1629.*° As in the case of Nutmeg Quarter, 
there is no certain knowledge as to early ministers here. Most of the area 


originally covered by Mulberry Island is now within the bounds of the United 
States Army post at Fort Eustis. 

The last of the five plantation parishes which we shall give an account of 
was that at Warrosquyoake (present Isle of Wight) . This area suffered greatly 
in the massacre of March, 1621/2 and was temporarily abandoned. The In- 
dians were driven out in 1623 and the settlers slowly returned, though there 
were only thirty-one persons mustered here in 1625. By 1629, however, great 
increase in population is evidenced by the fact that, in that year, this was 
the only settlement which turned in to the General Court complete records 
of local court proceedings, parish levies and disbursements, and register of 
christenings, marriages and deaths. This report was as usual submitted by the 
"mynisters and churchwardens," which definitely indicate existence of a church 
building, even though it were temporary; but no tradition or record of such 
a building survives. An Act of Assembly of February, 1631/2, made pro- 
vision that, in localities where churches were lacking or in poor condition, 
the inhabitants be tithed to contribute toward a new building, and that the 
local justices, ministers and churchwardens pick out the site, hire workmen and 
order necessary materials. It is entirely logical, therefore, to assign the year 
1632 as the date of the construction of a brick church in Warrosquyoake, and 
it is a well-substantiated tradition that such a record was contained in the 
first parish vestry book; the book is no longer on the scene to bear witness, 
having long since succumbed to the ravages of time and the elements. The 
first documentary reference to such a church is no earlier than 1638, and it was 
reported then to have been in existence in a deed for adjoining land of later* 
date. This, too, falls into the logical pattern, for in the early seventeenth 
century, the erection of a permanent brick building was not accomplished in 
a single year, and the record of this church in 1632 probably referred to the 
order for its construction, not to its completion. There is still standing in 
Isle of Wight a restored colonial church which has very strong claim to being 
the original Warrosquyoake parish church, building of which was begun in 
1632 and completed before 1638. It is located about five miles southeast of 
Smithfield near the head of a marshy tidal stream called Jones' Creek. In 
appearance, it is essentially Gothic in style, with buttressed walls, pointed- 
arch windows and a massive square tower with brick quoins. This is the exact 
style of architecture of the well-known Jamestown church, built sometime 
between 1639 and 1647, and whose original tower survives. Known affec- 
tionately as the Old Brick Church (and less accurately as Saint Luke's, as 
will appear below), this church has some very strong traditions attached to 
it and is the object of intense local pride because of its age and associations, 
having been very recently completely restored by the Historic Saint Luke's 
Restoration, of which the late Henry Mason Day was the moving spirit. A 
brick taken from its walls in an earlier restoration (1894) bears the date 


1632, which coincides with other facts previously mentioned; the most 
tenacious tradition, however, is that which claims it was built at the direction 
of Colonel Joseph Bridger, a prominent and influential citizen, by master 
builders Charles and Thomas Driver, who were imported by him for that 
purpose, and whose initials appear high up in the bricks of the tower. What- 
ever the merits of these traditions, the church is a most interesting example 
of seventeenth century architecture and the restoration has been beautifully 
carried out, not only with regard to the building itself but also its authentic 
period furnishings: a seventeenth century baptismal font, communion silver, 
a communion table c.l640, two original oak chairs, and most important of 
all — the parish's original Bible of 1629 (the first Cambridge edition of the 
King James Version) which has been miraculously preserved through more 
than tliree centuries. The church was called "the Brick Church" (as well as 
by its official name of Newport Parish Church) in the eighteenth century, 
and came to be known as the "Old Brick Church" in the early nineteenth 
century; it had the name "Saint Luke's" attached to it unofficially in 1828, 
but was never so called in parish records until the restoration was completed in 

Little is known of early ministers here. The Reverend William Bennett, 
probably a Cambridge graduate and reputed a Puritan, was said to be minister 
at Edward Bennett's Plantation in 1623; the relationship between them, if any, 
is not known. There was also the Reverend Henry Jacob of Kent, a plebe at 
Saint Mary's Hall in 1581 and B.A., M.A. (Oxon., 1583 and 1586 respec- 
tively) ; he came to Virginia in 1624 and may have been a minister in Isle 
of Wight until his death.*^ 

Corporation, Plantation and Parish Representation in the Assembly 

It was pointed out earlier in this chapter that in 1619 the Colony of 
Virginia was divided into four Corporations, and that the first General As- 
sembly convened (30 July 1619) was composed of the Governor (Sir George 
Yeardley), the Council, and two Burgesses from each Corporation and from 
each of seven particular plantations, or twenty-two Burgesses in all. There 
seems to be some inconsistency in this method of representation, since not 
only were the Corporations represented, but also the other settlements within 
their boundaries. It must be remembered that the Burgesses from the Cor- 
porations represented the Company plantations, whereas the others represented 
the particular plantations which were territorially within the Corporation 
bounds but not under their jurisdiction; this same circumstance has been seen 
to be true in regard to the inferior courts and the parish organization. 

Only two Lower Tidewater areas were represented in this first Assembly, 
as has been previously indicated, and they were the Borough of Kecoughtan 


(soon to become the Corporation of Elizabeth City) and Captain Lawne's 
Plantation (soon to be called Isle of Wight). For the former, there were 
Captain William Tucker, who needs no further introduction at this point, 
and William Capps, who lived on a tract on the west side of Hampton Creek 
just north of Sunset Creek. For the latter, there were Captain Christopher 
Lawne himself, and a young man named Ensign Washer, but not further 

It was noted earlier that no proceedings of the Assembly have been pre- 
served after the first one until the one which convened in March of 1623/4. 
The acts then passed were signed by twenty-four individuals, but with no 
indication of their constituencies.''® However, most of these names are known 
through other sources, and at least four of them can be identified as being 
from our area of interest: 

Captain William Tucker (Newport News) 
Rauleigh Croshaw,* gent. (Old Point Comfort) 
Captain Richard Stephens (Warwick River) 
Captain Nathaniel Basse ( Warrosquyoake) 

Tucker and Basse we have met before; Croshaw will be further introduced 
below when land grants are discussed; and Stephens will be recalled as the 
one who was to be a Justice for his district in 1631/2 and a member of the 
Council in 1632. It is of further interest that, as early as 1619 and 1623/4, 
the usage was established of having Elizabeth City represented in two parts 
with one Burgess from the upper and one from the lower area. 

Here occurs another gap in the records, with none preserved until March 
of 1628/9, at which Assembly the names of the Burgesses were not listed.^ 
From then until the establishment of the counties, complete lists were given, 
including members of the Governor's Council of State, and below are excerpts 
for Lower Tidewater from these lists under the dates of the Assemblies con- 
cerned. It will be noted that localities are specified and, while the word 
"parish" is infrequently used, it seems that the parish was the unit of repre- 
sentation as well as the plantation. 

16 October 1629^^ 
Council Captain Samuel Mathewes 

Mulberry Island Thomas Harwood 

Phettiplace Clause** 
Warwick River Christopher Stokes 

Thomas Ceely 

Thomas Flint 

Zachary Cripps 

* Rawleigh Crawshaw.- 

* Close. 

Va. 7 




Nutmeg Quarter 
Elizabeth City 

Mulberry Island 

Warwick River 

Denby [sic] 

Nutmeg Quarter 

Upper part of 
Elizabeth City 

Lower part of 
Elizabeth City 


Captain Nathaniel Basse 
Richard Bennett 
Robert Savin 
Thomas Jourdain 
William Cole 
William Bentley 
Left. Thomson* 
Mr. English 
Adam Thorowgood 
Mr. Rowlston 
John Browning 
John Dow[n}man 

24 March 1629150^- 

Captain Samuel Mathewes 
Thomas Harwood 
Anthony Barham 

Thomas Flint 
John Brewer 

Thomas Ceely 

Christopher Stokes 

Thomas Key 

Joseph Stratton 

John Upton 

John Atkins 

Robert Savin 

Thomas Burgess 

Captain Thomas Willoughby 

William Kempe 

Thomas Hayrick 

Captain Thomas Purfury 

Adam Thorowgood 

Lancelot Barnes 

21 February 163112^^ 
Captain Samuel Mathewes 
Captain Nathaniel Basse 
Captain William Tucker 
Captain Thomas Purifye [!] 
Captain William Peirce 

* Lieut. George Thomson, who was a Justice in March of 1628/9. On an expedition against 
the Indians in October, 1629, it was noted: "one ancor lost in the march out of Lieut. Thompson 
his boat," (Hening, I, 142.) 



Keith's Creek and 
Mulberry Island 
to Saxon's Goale* 
Warwick River 

Water's Creek and 
Upper Parish of 
Elizabeth City 
Lower Parish of 
Elizabeth City 


Mulberry Island 

Stanley Hundred 

Denby [sic] to 
Water's Creek 

Upper Parish of 
Elizabeth City 

Lower Parish of 
Elizabeth City 


Mulberry Island 
Stanley Hundred 
Denby [sic] 

Thomas Harwood 
Thomas Flint 
Thomas Seely 
Thomas Ramshawe 

Captain Thomas Willoughby 

George Downes 
Thomas Jourdain 

4 September 1632'^^ 
Captain Samuel Mathewes 
Captain Richard Stephens 
Captain Thomas Purifie 
Thomas Harwood 
Thomas Bennett 
Thomas Barnett 
Thomas Flint 

Phettiplace Clause 

Thomas Jorden 

John Powell 

Captain Thomas Willoughby (absent) 

Henry Seawell 

John Sipsey 

Adam Thorowgood 

William English 

George Downes 

1 February 1632/3^^ 
Captain Samuel Mathewes 
Captain William Tucker 
Captain Thomas Purifie 
Mr. John Brewer 
Thomas Harwood 
William Spencer 
Zachary Cripps 
Roger Dilke 
Captain Thomas Flint 
Thomas Hawkins 
John Upton 
Robert Savin 

* Also called Haxom's Goale (or Gaole, incorrectly, we believe), probably near lower end 
of Mulberry Island but not below Blunt Point. (See Nugent, p. 4.) 


Nutmeg Quarter Francis Hough 

Upper Parts [sic] of Thomas Sheppard 

Ehzabeth City John Sipsey 

Lower Parts [sic] of William English 

Elizabeth City John Arundel 

Early Landowners and their Holdings 

The land grant records are contained in the patent books in the Virginia 
State Land office, which begin in 1623 with some scattered grants of a few 
years earlier recorded at that time. The most complete records begin in 1624 
when the Virginia Company was dissolved; however, grants were not actually 
made in the name of the Crown until 1627. Even then the records are not 
complete and there are many grantees whom we know of from other sources 
for whom land grants have not been preserved on record. Another excellent 
source is the well-known list of 1626^^ which gives many names not otherwise 
known, and — most important of all — lists landowners in geographical sequence 
and thereby assists greatly in determining the approximate location of many 
very early land grants. The grants here concerned are not the big particular 
plantations (although some of them appear in the list, too) but individual 
holdings, "dividends" they were called, granted at first in multiples of one 
hundred acres, later of fifty acres, for the grantee's own "adventure" into 
the Colony or for the transportation of others. In the list which is here given, 
the early land grants and the 1626 list are used as the basis, supplemented 
with data gleaned from other sources. In each area the sequence starts up- 
stream and moves downward on riverbank and shore line, unless otherwise 
indicated. The dates of the grants are given when known, as well as other 
identifying data; the page number refers to Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers 
(see bibliography) , abstracts of early land grants, when there mentioned. 

Date Grantee Acres Remarks p. no. 

"Warrasqueake [sic] Plantation . . . downwards from Hog Island 
[Lawne's Creek]" 
John Carter 
Christopher Daniel 
Adam Dixon 
John Perry 
Thomas Winter 
John Pittington 
Thomas Pool 
Anthony Barkham* 
Capt. Nathaniel Basse 300 mentioned in another 10 

patent c. 1628 
Giles Jones 150 " 12 



list only 










mentioned in another 


t c. 1628 



Date Grantee Acres Remarks 

"Martin's Hundred near Mulberry Island" 

[in James City just above Keith's Creek, so what follows is just below.} 

p. no. 


Nathaniel Hall 
Capt. William Peirce] 

John Rolfe, deed. 

Stanley Hundred 
to Thomas Flint 
to John Brewer 

1627 Robert Poole 

Gilbert Peppett 

Francis Gifford 
1624 John Bainham, gent. 

{Warwick River intervenes here.] 
Capt. Mathews 
of Denbigh Plantation 

[Blunt Point was here.] 








1626 list only 

^mentioned in Flint's 
) grant, 1628, below. 

This tract appears from 

the sequence of 1626 
- list to have belonged at 

one time to Clayborne 

and Hamor. 
^said to adjoin 
^Stanley Hundred Church, 
^said to adjoin Poole, 
)in latter's patent. 
1626 list only 
up a creek near Blunt Pt. 

^was this part of or 
^addition to Denbigh? 

[Hved in James City — 

<j this land was at Blunt Pt. 

[adjoining Cornelius May 

^1626 list and 

^ above patent 

(1626 list and 

^ below patent 

[lived in James City, 

[ said here to adjoin 

IR. Craven 

1626 list only 
^1626 list and 
^ below patent 
[Said to adjoin P. 
J Ibbison and on 
[Waters' Creek 
[Waters' Creek, now Lake Maury, intervenes here.] 

Capt. Jos. Hurleson 100 1626 list only 

1624 Thomas Hothersall 

Cornelius May 
Richard Craven 

1624 Richard Tree 

Richard Domilawe 
Percival Ibbison 

1624 Edward Waters, Gent. 








■ Same as the Burgess for Mulberry I. in 1629/30? 





Robert Hutchins, Mariner 


Robert Sweets 


John Southerne 


1621 Maurice Thompson, Gent. 150 

1624 John Salford, yeoman 100 
son of Robert 

1624 Pharaoh FHnton, Gent. 150 

1624 Lt. Giles Allington, Gent. 100 

1624 William Bentley 50 

1624 Thomas Godbye, yeoman 100 

Newport News 1300 

Glebe Land 100 

Mr. Keyth 100 

[Here a tidal marsh intervened.] 

1620 John Taylor, yeoman 

Date Grantee Acres Remarks 

^1626 list and 
^ below patent 
fbelow Waters' Creek 

1629 Robert Sweets 100 ^ said to adjoin 

[R. Hutchins 

{1626 list; had another 
grant for 24A on 
Jamestown Island, 1627 

Sir Francis Wyatt 500 1626 list only 

[following six grants all specifically state "between Newport News 
and Blunt Point."} 

for transportation 
of Geo. Thompson* 
[ and John Bembridge 
[said to adjoin 
-j Maurice Thompson and 
[Pharaoh Flinton 
^said to adjoin Salford 
)and Allington 
^said to adjoin Flinton 
)and Bentley 
said to adjoin Allington 
said to adjoin Bentley 
This is the Gookin 
plantation previously 
I mentioned 
1626 list only 

fRev. Geo. Keith, 

J minister of this area in 

(1628 — 1626 list only 

p. no. 

1620 John Powell, yeoman 



said to adjoin a 
swamp on west and 
J. Powell on east 
said to adjoin 
J. Taylor and a "green 
[swamp" (the creek) 
[Here Tucker's Creek, now Boat Harbor, intervened.] 





* Any connection between this George Thompson and the one mentioned in Tucker's grjnt 
later? Note also Burgesses for Oct., 1629, and Justices for Mar., 1628/9. 


Date Grantee Acres Remarks p. no. 

1620 Capt. William Tucker* 150 ff.^id to adjoin a 5 

J- J f i^ Ui. s ereen swamp and 

Commander of Kecoughtan K^ t^ , ^ 

° [R. Boulton 

[From this point the following grants extend along the shore from 
Tucker's Creek (Boat Harbor) to Hampton Creek.] 

Richard Boulton 50 j 1^26 list and 

^ above patent 

1624 Robert Salford, yeoman 100 

wife Joan 
son John (see below) 

'said to adjoin Salford 5 

(now Salter's) Creek — 
inland from J. Salford, 
also adjoined Miles Prickett 

1626 list only; prob. 
John Salford, yeoman 50 .{on shore in front of 

[R. Salford 

[Here Salford (now corrupted to Salter's) Creek intervened.} 

A,ri n ■ 1 ^t«* isn il626 1istand 

Miles Prickett** 150 

1624 John Bush, Gent 300 

above patent 

(said to adjoin Prickett, 
)Lupo and Julian 

1624 William Julian, yeoman 150 said to adjoin Bush 5 

1624 Lt. Albiano Lupo, Gent 350 said to be near Bush 5 

{said to touch "the 6 

broad creek by the 
old pines" 

[It appears Julian was on the shore and the Lupos inland; here a 
creek intervenes.} 

1624 Thomas Spilman, Gent 50 1 , ,- tth i -i 

^ /and E. Hill, dec d. 

„, , TTii -.f^r, I called deceased in above 

Edward Hill 100 ' , , ^ . ,„^^ ,. ^ 

/pat. but in 1926 list 

[Here another creek intervenes.} 

.y^A Ai J Aj^ , ,^^ (said to adjoin Hill 6 

1624 Alexander Mountney, yeoman 100 I j p i 

* It is noted in this grant that Tucker got this land for transportation out of England of 
George, Paul and William Tompson [sic] his wife's brothers. See note on Maurice Thomson's 
grant above. Tucker's wife was named Mary Tompson, according to Marshall Butt, and she arrived 
here in 1623. 

** In 1628, there was granted to "Ensign Thomas WiUoughby, Gent," 50 acres "west upon 
Salford's Creek unto land formerly graunted Miles Prickett now in tenure of said WiUoughby." 
(Nugent, p. 10.) 




William Cole 


(1626 list and 
^ above patent 

\1626 list only; 
Finland from Cole 

I site of first Kecoughtan 
jl Church, c. 1613 
[Here Church Creek (now Beaver Dams) intervenes.] 

said to adjoin Church 
1624 Elizabeth Dunthorne 100 

wife of Thomas, yeoman 

p. no. 

William Brooks 

Glebe Land 




William Gainye, 
Mariner [Gany] 



Creek, Gainye and the 
mouth of Southampton 

said to adjoin harbor of 6 
Southampton River, head 
of Church Creek, E. Dun- 
thorne, and a creek between 
I this land and W. Capps 

[Here the present Sunset Creek intervenes, and the following patents are on 
the west side of Hampton Creek.] 

^626 list and 
^ above patent 

[Here Salter's Creek intervenes, not to be confused with the one by the same 
name, formerly Salford's.] 

William Capps 

1624 William Clayborne, Gent, 
of James City 

1624 William Lansden, yeoman 

1624 William Clayborne 

John Gunnery 

[Here Deep Creek (?) intervenes.] 

1624 Mary Bouldin, wife 
of Thomas 





{said to adjoin Lansden 
and a creek dividing 
from Capps 
{said to adjoin a creek 
dividing from Clayborne, 

^said to adjoin Lansden 
^and Gunnery 
(1626 list and 
) above patent 

{said to adjoin Deep 
Creek and her husband, 
11/^ miles up river 

said to adjoin his wife 

1624 Thomas Bouldin, yeoman 200 

[The following are on the east side of Hampton Creek.] 
Virginia Company 30,000 1626 list 

Common Land 1,500 1626 list 



Date Grantee Acres Remarks p. no. 

[On this Company or Common Land were located the 'Tort Field," site of 

Henry Fort of I6IO (now the National Soldiers Home), and a half mile 

to the north, the Kecoughtan Parish Church of 1624 (the second).] 

[Here "Strawberry Banks" (see previous chapter), and the present Mill 

Creek intervened.] 

. , T- . Uite of present 

Algernoun Fort <„ , n/ 

° ^Fort Monroe 

1623 Capt. Rawleigh Crawshaw, 500 ^"in Old Point 2 

Gent. ^Comfort" 

[From the description of the two following patents, "north on Back River 
and south . . . tending toward the head of Southampton River," and 
from the fact that the grantees were "of Buck Roe," it seems that the 
latter term had a much wider application than presently applied to Buck- 
roe Beach.] 

1624 Peter Arundel, Gent.=' 200 ^said to adjoin 6 

of Buck Roe ^Hoskins 

1624 Bartholomew Hoskins 100 (said to adjoin 6 

of Buck Roe ^Arundel 

Thomas Willoughby 200 1626 list only 

Pamunkey (now York) River 1626 list 

[We judge from last two entries above (which are actually in reverse order) 
that part of present York County may have been in Elizabeth City — 
Willoughby 's tract cannot be located with certainty.] 

[The following tracts, described in the only two surviving patents as "on 
the south side of the river over against (opposite) Kecoughtan," are on 
the Norfolk side and are the first tracts taken up in that area. The 
sequence here starts at Willoughby's Point (now called "Spit"), thence 
west to Seawell's Point, thence south to Tanner's Creek (now Lafayette 

Thomas Willoughby 100 

Thomas Chapman 100 

Thomas Breewood 200 

[Here Mason's Creek intervened.] 

John Downman 100 

1620 Captain William Tucker 650 

[This was right on Seawell's Point, and between this and Sipsey was a 

i/'T.< Tu c- o<;r^ (said to adjoin 7 

1624 John Sipsey, yeoman 250 \r~ , , ^, 

J r j^ J I Tucker and Cheesman 

1624 Lt. John Cheesman, Gent. 200 j^^i^ to adjoin 7 

•' I Sipsey 


Date Grantee Acres Remarks p. no. 

1620 John Wood, shipbuilder, .^^^,- 

TT I T x:\- u lu v>- -.s not on 1626 hst 

[July} on Elizabeth River-" 

[The latter entry represents merely an application for land on that river, 

"because thereon is timber fitting for his trade, and water sufficient to 

launch such ships as shall be there built for the use and service of the 


This ends the list of earliest grants in the Corporation of Elizabeth City. 
There were many more land grants prior to 1634 when the counties were laid 
out, but to detail them here would fill more space than we have available. A 
few words of comment on the lands in the Seawell's Point area may not be 
out of place. As noted above, only two grants there have been preserved in 
the records, those of Sipsey and Cheesman. We know of Tucker's six- 
hundred-and-fifty-acre grant from a deed of much later date (1661)"^ on 
record for Lower Norfolk County, which recited the following facts: that 
Captain Tucker, in 1620, patented six hundred and fifty acres "knowne and 
commonly called by the name of the plantations scituate, lyeing and being 
on the south side of James River;" that this patent was confirmed by General 
Court Order in December, 1633; that he afterwards assigned the whole tract 
to Sipsey; that Henry Seawell the elder* did "cleare, seate, build and plant" 
on one hundred and fifty acres on the tract known as Seawell's Point ad- 
joining land occupied by Sipsey. It will be recalled that Sipsey and Seawell 
first appear on the scene as Burgesses for the upper part or parish of Elizabeth 
City in 1632, which Thomas Willoughby had represented since 1629 by 
virtue of his residence on Salford's creek in 1628. It is further to be noted 
that John Arundel (son of Peter of Buck Roe) "of the Lower Parish of 
Elizabeth City" had a grant on Back River in 1632, and was Burgess for the 
"Lower Parts" in February, 1632/3. This makes it clear, as was pointed out 
in the section on parishes, that the Upper or Kecoughtan Parish extended from 
Newport News to Hampton Creek, and the Lower Parish included Point 
Comfort, Buck Roe, Fox Hill, and Back River. 

Ancient Planters 

This term was used in the Virginia Company records to refer to the origi- 
nal settlers. The dividing line in time between the "ancient planters" and the 
"new planters" was the time of the "going away of Dale," a phrase much 
used in the records to refer to the end of Sir Thomas Dale's administration 
as Governor which occurred in May, I6I6. The ancient planters received 
greater consideration especially in the assignment of land, and got theirs in 

* He died before February, 1644/5. 



dividends of one hundred acres each as opposed to the later shares or "head- 
rights" of fifty acres each. A list of these ancient planters was compiled by 
Nugent®" from the patent books, and we have excerpted this list below to 
show those who eventually came to reside in Lower Tidewater. They are listed 
chronologically by the year in which they arrived in Virginia, but it must be 
remembered that such date does not mark the beginning of their residence in 
our area. Most of these names will be familiar to the reader through other 
associations ; the place of residence has been added for those who are not. 


before May, 1616. 

Year Name 

1608 Phettiplace Close 
Rawleigh Crawshaw 

[His grant of 1623 says he came in Bona Nova 
if so, he must have made two trips.] 
William Julian 
Lt. Edward Waters 

1609 John Chandler, servant of Thomas Willoughby 
Elizabeth Joones [sic], servant 

of Thomas Dunthorne 
Robert Partin, and wife Margaret, 

of Kecoughtan 
John Powell 

1610 William Bouldin and wife, Mary 
Elizabeth Dunthorne (d. I626) 

Thomas Lawson* and Margaret Bray, his wife 

Albiano Lupo, Gent. (d. I626) [an Italian?] 

Alexander Mountney 

John Taylor 

William Tucker 

Thomas Willoughby, aged nine 

1611 John Downeman 

John Gundry, laborer [Gunnery] 

Oliver Jenkins of Warrosquyoake 

Miles Prickett 

Robert Salford and wife Joane 

John Smith of Warrosquyoake 

Thomas Sully, yeoman of Elizabeth City 

1612 Pharaoh Flinton, Gent., a "Surgion," 

wife Joan 


in I62O; 





Mary and James 


Mary and James 

John and Francis 




John and Francis 




* Not a resident of Elizabeth City, but was grandfather of Anthony Lawson, who later settled 
u> Lower Norfolk. 


Year Name Ship 

1613 Francis Mason, wife Anne, daughter Anne ]ohn and Francis 

[on Mason's Creeic before Nov. 1635] 

1616 John Bainham (d. 1628/9) wife Ehzabeth; Susan 
dau. Mary married Richard Tisdale 

WilHam Gany [Gainye] George 

Ehzabeth, wife of Albiano Lupo (see above) George 

Thomas Spelman, Gent. George 

Mary, wife of John Gundry (see above) George 

John Salford [son of Robert, above] George 

The following also were specified in the records as "ancient planters," but 
the exact year of their coming has not been determined: 

Lt. Giles Allington (d. 1629) 

William Capps 

James Davis, Gent., of Warrosquyoake 

Mary, wife of Thomas Flint, Gent. 

Bartholomew Hospkins [sic] 

William Lansden, yeoman 

Thomas Key and wife, Martha of Denbigh 

The most famous of the Ancient Planters, who eventually came to live in 
Elizabeth City, were the Laydon family. John Laydon, a carpenter, arrived at 
Jamestown with the First Settlers in May, 1607. On the Second Supply, which 
came in October, I6O8, were Thomas Forrest, gent., and his wife, also John 
Burras, a tradesman, and his daughter Anne, the latter being Mistress Forrest's 
maid. During the winter of 1608-9, John Laydon and Anne Burras were mar- 
ried, the first Anglican marriage in America; about 1609-10, their first daughter 
Virginia Laydon was born, the first British child born in Jamestown, and, like 
her predecessor, Virgina Dare, named for the country. In the 1625 muster 
of those living at Elizabeth City were John and Anne Laydon and their four 
daughters (Virginia, Alice, Katherine, Margaret), and in 1632 Laydon re- 
ceived a grant of 500 acres in that Corporation. Thus there were living at 
Elizabeth City the first couple to be married in Virginia and the first child 
born at Jamestown. 

This ends the story of the Corporation of Elizabeth City. As will appear 
in what follows, the corporations were superseded and replaced by the counties 
early in 1634, and from this point on, our story will be told in separate parts 
(insofar as possible) by the counties which fell within our area of interest, 
Lower Tidewater Virginia. 


Notes on Chapter IV 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 

1. Sams, The Third Attempt, p. 444 et seq. 

2. Stith, History of Virginia, p. l60. 

3. Sams, op. cit., pp. 405, 438, 440. 

4. Yonge, "Jamesloume," pp. 65, 96. 

5. Sams, op. cit., pp. 456-7; Butt, Norfolk County. 

6. Sams, The Second Attempt, p. 133; The Third Attempt, p. 39; Hening, Statutes at Large, I, 

7. Mason, "Churches of Warwick and Elizabeth City," p. 371. 

8. Mason, "Churches of Isle of Wight and Southampton," p. 41. 
9- Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers, pp. 2-15, passim. 

10. Sams, The Third Attempt, pp. 806-12; Butt, Norfolk County. 

11. Sams, op. cit., p. 812. 

12. Charles B. Clark (editor and author), see bibliography for complete title. 

13. Sams, op. cit., pp. 335-60. 

14. Ibid., p. 337. 

15. Ibid., pp. 444-5. 

16. Ibid., p. 354. 

17. A. C. Brown, Newport News, p. 26. 

18. Mason, "Churches of Warwick and Elizabeth City," pp. 371-3. 

19. A. C. Brown, op. cit., pp. 27-8. 

20. Ibid., pp. 28, 265. 

21. Ibid., pp. 24-30; here the question of the origin of the name Newport News is thoroughly 
discussed in an article by Miss C. W. Evans. 

22. Mason, op. cit., p. 372; Sams, op. cit., p. 810. 

23. Mason, op. cit., p. 376. 

24. Sams, op. cit., pp. 370-1. 

25. Loc. cit.; see also Campbell, "Syms and Eaton Schools," pp. 1-2. 

26. Sams, op. cit., pp. 653-4. 

27. Ibid., pp. 661, 665, 163. 

28. Ibid., p. 812; Nugent, op. cit., p. 5; Lower Norfolk County, Deed Book D, p. 348. 

29. Sams, The Second Attempt, pp. 767-783 ; The Third Attempt, pp. 335-8, 475. 

30. Sams, op. cit., pp. 474-5, 793-5: the Ordinance here detailed is that of 24 July 1621, ordering 
the first Assembly, which it is supposed was very similar to that of 1618, the original text 
of which has been lost. See also Ibid., pp. 315, 440; Beverley, op. cit., p. 50. 

31. 1 H 125. 

32. Ibid., 130 et seq. 

33. Ibid., 153 ^' seq. 

34. Ibid., 178 et seq. 

35. Ames, "'Beginnings and Progress [Virginia Eastern Shore]," p. 107. 

36. Burn, Ecclesiastical Law, cited in Enc. Brit., XII, 117. 

37. Mason, op, cit., pp. 382-3; Nugent, op. cit., pp. 5, 12. 

38. Goodwin, Colonial Church in Virginia, pp. 252, 316, 268. 

39. Sams, op. cit., 811. 

40. Mason, op. cit., pp. 385-6; State Historical Markers, p. 130; the wording of the order of 
10 October 1624 is not clear, for Waters was still living in 1628/9. 

40a. See Chapter III, Note 51; also Sams, op. cit., pp. 428, 435, 553. 

41. Mason, op. cit., p. 383. 

42. Goodwin, pp. 252, 284, 309; State Historical Markers, p. 128. 

43. Mason, op. cit., pp. 374-5, 383. 

44. Ibid., pp. 376-7 ; Mason, "First Colonial Church Denbigh." 

45. Mason, "Churches of Warwick and Elizabeth City," pp. 372-3. 

46. The age of the Old Brick Church was discussed thoroughly and (it is believed) impartially 
by the late George Carrington Mason, former historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of 
Southern Virginia, in his article "The Colonial Churches of Isle of Wight and Southampton 
Counties," pp. 43-48 (see bibliography), from which most of the information herein was 
taken. It was there pointed out (1) that the 1632 date on the brick referred to (which is 


the only one of three found that has been preserved) contains a figure "3" which is suffi- 
ciently vague to be read as "8" by skeptics; (2) that, while the Gothic design points to a 
period near that of the Jamestown Church (c. 1639), the early Bruton Parish Church of 1683 
was also built in this style; (3) that Colonel Joseph Bridger (1628-1683) was not of age 
until 1649, and not in Virginia until 1657, and that the first Driver (one Giles) arrived also 
in 1657, while Charles and Thomas Driver did not come of age until after 1675. To this, 
the writer would add the following observation: the walls of Old Brick Church are laid in 
Flemish bond ; the Jamestown Church Tower is in English bond, as are Adam Thorowgood 
House (part) and James Wishard House (whole) in Princess Anne, and Bacon's Castle in 
Surry, all associated with mid-seventeenth century or earlier; it should be further noted, how- 
ever, that Old Brick Church's Flemish is rough and unadorned, while late seventeenth century 
Flemish had glazed blue headers. 

See also articles in Norfolk Virginia-Pilot concerning "Historic St. Luke's Restoration," on 
19 May 1957, 20 May 1957 and 14 July 1957, the latter containing the obituary of Henry 
Mason Day (died 13 July 1957). 

47. Goodwin, o/i. <-/'/., pp. 250, 281. 

48. Sams, The Third Attempt, pp. 444-5. 

49. Hening, op. cit., I, 129. 

50. Ibid., p. 130. 

51. Ibid., p. 139. 

52. Ibid., pp. 147-9. 

53. Ibid., pp. 153-4. 

54. Ibid., pp. 178-9. 

55. Ibid., pp. 202-3. 

56. Sams, op. cit., pp. 806-12; many names were misread, misspelled and otherwise distorted by 
Sams, but have been corrected from other sources. 

57. Peter Arundel was a Frenchman, and his occupation was vigneron (winegrower) like many 
of his countrymen who were in this same area. This was one of the attempts to build up 
a profitable industry by the Virginia Company. "Buck Roc," now called Buckroe Beach, tradi- 
tionally had its origin in a locality in Yorkshire named Buckrose, though there are many 
other local traditions, less authentic it must be admitted, which attempt to explain it. 

58. Butt, Norfolk County. 

59. Lower Norfolk County Deed Book D, p. 348. 

60. Nugent, op. cit., pp. xxviii-xxxiv. 

Chapter V 

The Shire or County of Elizabeth City 

By Marvin W. Schlegel* 

ELIZABETH CITY COUNTY was created in 1634 along with the seven 
other original counties of Virginia, but because of the ravages of war 
and time upon the colonial records, we know very little of the county's 
history for the first half century of its existence, since all its records prior 
to 1688 perished in the burning of Hampton in 1861, and we have only a 
few scattered scraps of information preserved elsewhere. 

Although the names of the first county officials are lost to us along with 
their records, the first justices were probably much the same as the com- 
missioners appointed for Elizabeth City two years earlier, in 1632, as given in 
the previous chapter, since the creation of the counties was a change in 
name rather than in the functions of the local government. The commissioners 
sat as the monthly court for Elizabeth City before the county was created 
and continued to do so afterwards. If the seven men appointed in 1632 were 
still alive in 1634, it may be assumed that they constituted the first court of 
Elizabeth City County.^ 

The justices were generally the most influential men in the county, and 
this was certainly true in Elizabeth City. At the head of the list was Captain 
William Tucker, one of the wealthiest men in the county; as a member of 
the Colonial Council, he had the proud title of "esquire" and was one of the 
quorum. Captain Tucker had come to Virginia at the age of twenty-one, 
arriving with Lord Delaware in 1610 in the fleet that turned back the fleeing 
refugees from "the starving time" at Jamestown. In 1623, he had married 
a girl named Mary Thompson, just come over from England, and the fol- 
lowing year a daughter named Elizabeth was born to them. Living with the 
family in 1625 were fourteen white persons, probably as servants, along with 
William Crawshaw, a baptized Indian, and a Negro couple and their child. ^ 

The second "esquire" on the list was Captain Thomas Perfury ("Purifie" 
in the record), who was also of the quorum. Captain Perfury was seven years 
older than Captain Tucker, but he had arrived in Virginia only in 1621. He 
immediately became a prominent man in Elizabeth City, for he was a lieu- 
tenant in 1625, a commissioner in 1626, and a burgess in 1630.^ A third 

* See Foreword. 


captain among the commissioners was Captain Thomas Willoughby, who had 
spent almost all his life in Virginia, having come with Lord Delaware in 
1610 when he was only nine. By the time he was twenty-three, he had been 
appointed an ensign and had four indentured servants making tobacco; four 
years later he was named commissioner and was elected burgess the fol- 
lowing year.^ 

The other four commissioners had no military rank and were described 
only as "gentlemen," a term which in those days indicated a high social 
position. Two of these, William English and George Downes, were new- 
comers to Virginia, as their names did not appear on the census taken in 
1625. Both of them had settled in "the lower part of Elizabeth City," that 
is, the land east of Hampton River, which had filled up rapidly after the 
London Company was dissolved and its reserved lands in that area had been 
opened up to settlers. The third "gentleman" among the commissioners, 
John Arundel, was an older resident of "the lower part," as he had settled 
at Buckroe after his arrival with his father, Peter, in 1621 When the father 
died four years later, John, then only twenty-two, had moved in with his 
neighbors, William and Joan Hampton, but soon had a home and family of 
his own.^ 

The last name on the list was destined to be remembered longer than 
any of the others, if only because, after he had moved to what is now 
Princess Anne County, he built a sturdy home, which is perhaps the oldest 
house in the United States. The house on Lynnhaven Bay is a fitting monu- 
ment to Adam Thorowgood, for he was one of those men whose dynamic 
ambition was to build America. Born in 1604, the seventh son of a puritan 
English vicar, he determined to seek his fortune in the New World and in 
1621 came to Virginia as an indentured servant to Edward Waters of 
Elizabeth City.*^ He served out his time without incident, but, just as he was 
earning his freedom, a too-well-celebrated New Year's Eve brought him to 
the attention of the colony's General Court. With six other friends that night 
he sailed out to the Grace, anchored in Hampton Roads, and joined the 
sailors in a merry time. As the boat hoisted sail on the trip back to shore, 
however, it overturned, and two members of the party were drowned. In- 
vestigating the accident on January 30, 1625/26, the court was told that the 
group had shown no signs of drunkenness when they left the Grace and 
found no one guilty of causing the two deaths. Nevertheless, Adam and his 
friends were required to post bond as a guarantee for their future good 

Before the year which had begun so unfortunately was out, Adam 
Thorowgood had purchased his first land in Elizabeth City, and in 1627 he 
went back to England to marry Sarah Offley, the daughter of a rich London 
merchant. From here on his rise was rapid. He was appointed commissioner 


of the monthly court for Elizabeth City in 1628/29, was elected burgess the 
same year, and finally in 1637 was named to the Council, sitting on the same 
General Court that had investigated his youthful escapade just eleven years 
before. By that time he had received at the request of the king's Privy Council 
in England a grant of 5,350 acres of land on the south side of the bay and 
had already started building his house there. By that time, too, he had ceased 
to be a resident of Elizabeth City, for in 1637 that part of the county on 
the south side of Hampton Roads was cut off from its parent and given a 
government of its own. On May 15, 1637, Adam Thorowgood sat as com- 
missioner with the first court of Lower Norfolk County.* 

After the separation of Lower Norfolk County, Elizabeth City settled 
down within the boundaries it was to retain until it disappeared from the 
map in 1952. Although it had now become the smallest of Virginia counties 
in area, it had been in 1634 the second largest in population with 859 m- 
habitants; only James City, with 886, was larger." The loss of the south side 
reduced its population, but its compact area and convenient location were 
to keep it the most thickly-settled of Virginia counties during the seventeenth 
century. Even before the establishment of Hampton, Elizabeth City came closer 
to being a town than did any other part of the colony except Jamestown. 

Steps toward the creation of an urban center in the county were indicated 
by the licensing of several persons early in 1639 to keep "a common ale 
house and victualing house " Each licensee was enjoined not "to suffer any 
unlawful games to be used in his house nor any evil rule or order to be kept 
within the same." The names of these first vendors of public entertainment 
and refreshment in Elizabeth City County were unfortunately lost to us with 
the destruction of the colonial records in the burning of Richmond in 1865; 
all that survives is notes previously taken by Conway Robinson, and Mr. 
Robinson failed to write down the names." 

Another provider of public service was Henry Hawley, who in 1640 
asked the General Court for a patent "for keeping a ferry at the mouth of 
Hampton River in Kequotan for the use of inhabitants and passengers in or 
about their occasions." The court awarded him the patent for his lifetime 
with the stipulation that his charges should not exceed a penny per person. 
The size of the fee indicates that his ferry was intended to set passengers 
across Hampton River, which was already losing its original value as a high- 
way and becoming an obstacle, as Virginians shifted from water to land 

Elizabeth City had also acquired its first industries. In 1635 William 
Claiborne erected a windmill on his land on the west side of Hampton 
River,^- and soon another mill was built on the east side of the river on what 
was to become Mill Creek, for a deed of 1645 mentions "the round mill" 
there.'* If these mills occupied the same sites as the two shown on a British 

Va. 8 


map of the county made during the Revolution," the one on Mill Creek 
was on the west bank of that stream near its mouth, while Claiborne's was 
on Blackbeard's Point. It may have been the Elizabeth City millers who 
caused the colony to enact its first laws regulating industry in 1645, when 
millers were forbidden to take more than one-sixth of the grain in toU.^® 
This act, like many another piece of colonial legislation, proved so ineffective 
that it had to be reinforced with another two years later, requiring the millers 
to buy scales.^® 

Except for its alehouses and its windmills, Elizabeth City remained as 
rural as the rest of Virginia, with much of its land still uncleared and some 
of it still unclaimed by any owner. There were small farmhouses, surrounded 
by fields of corn and tobacco, but there is no evidence of splendid homes or 
large estates. Earlier attempts at diversification of crops had failed; the vine- 
yards at Buckroe were "spoyled and ruinated," in the words of the General 
Assembly," and, although the Frenchmen there were ordered not to plant 
tobacco on pain of imprisonment, it is unlikely that this threat was ever 
carried out. 

The easy informality with which justice was administered in the early 
days of Elizabeth City County is indicated by the case of Henry Poole, the 
county clerk, in 1640. Having had the misfortune to get into financial diffi- 
culties with Morris Allen, a London merchant, Poole suffered the embar- 
rassment of being brought up before his own court and having to record the 
court's order that he be confined until he had settled his debts. The sheriff, 
however, not wishing to inconvenience the county's business, interpreted 
confinement freely and let the clerk out of jail whenever he wished, where- 
upon the irate attorney for the London merchant appealed to the General 
Court. Unable to ignore this evasion of the due process of law, the court 
"ordered that the said sheriff shall retain the said Poole in his custody and 
not permit him, neither with keep nor without, to go above twenty paces 
from the prison until such time as he shall make satisfaction . . ."^^ For- 
tunately, the court helped the confined clerk out of his troubles by confirming 
the right he had claimed to collect a commission on "all inventories and 
outcries" in the county.'® 

We know from this record of Poole's tribulations that Elizabeth City had 
a prison in 1640, and we may guess from the wording of the order that the 
courthouse was not above twenty paces from the jail. As to what these struc- 
tures were like and where they were located, however, there survives not a 
single clue. Most probably they were near the parish church, which at this 
period stood on the Strawberry Banks at the site now marked by the granite 
cross erected by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolu- 

The site of this second church was rediscovered only in 1910 through the 


efforts of Jacob Heffelfinger, who as a Union soldier first saw Hampton as 
a ruined city and stayed on to help rebuild it after the war. While preparing 
a history of St. John's Church for the celebration of the three hundredth 
anniversary of the first English settlement at Hampton, he located the founda- 
tions of the old church with a sounding rod and had them excavated. The 
cobblestone and brick foundations indicated that the original structure had 
probably been a framed, wooden building, fifty-three and a half feet long 
by twenty-three wide. The floor had been paved with brick tile, and several 
important members of the parish had been buried inside the church, but the 
inscriptions on their tombstones had long been rendered indecipherable by 
the remorseless ravages of time and weather.-^ 

The fact that the builders of this church went to the trouble of raising an 
artificial mound a quarter of an acre in area in order to elevate the structure for 
better drainage, indicates more painstaking precautions against future decay 
than was common in seventeenth-century Virginia. This, along with the fact 
that it was built on the east side of the river, in the region reserved to the 
London Company until 1625, may indicate that it was built by Company 
funds rather than with local tithes. In any case, it was probably erected in 
the early I620's and stood until 1698 when it was torn down by Walter 
Bayley at the order of the county court." It was unfortunate that Virginia 
could not yet afford the luxury of preserving historic monuments; the church 
pulled down by Walter Bayley may well have been the last building in 
Virginia surviving from the days of the Company. 

Not far away on Point Comfort stood the structure which symbolized the 
role of Elizabeth City as guardian of the entrance to the colony. The only 
fortification Virginia possessed against invasion from the sea was Algernoun 
Fort, erected in 1609 by order of Captain George Percy. This fort was rebuilt 
in 1631 by Captain Samuel Mathews at the insistence of Sir John Harvey, 
who had been alarmed to discover, when he arrived as governor in 1630, 
that the colony was completely defenseless.-^ Once the fort was finished. 
Sir John faced the problem of keeping it up, since the General Assembly 
did not wish to lay another burden on the shoulders of the Virginia tobacco 
planters. On the Indian frontier, forts were maintained by granting the land 
around them to anyone who would agree to keep up the defenses, but there 
was not enough public land left at Point Comfort; besides, the heavy cannon 
in the embrasures at Point Comfort required more care than the crude 
stockades in the forests. 

The Assembly therefore tried the device of taxing the ships which were 
to be protected by the guns of the fort. Each ship was required to stop at 
Point Comfort and pay castle duties of powder and shot to the captain of the 
fort, and the captain was also authorized to administer the oath of allegiance 
to every new arrival on board each ship at a fee of six pence a head.-* The 


first commander at the fort was Captain Francis Pott, brother of the famous 
Dr. John Pott, who took over with a force of eight men in 1632. This 
poHtical plum failed to keep the captain loyal to the governor, for he was 
one of the ringleaders in the movement which led to the temporary ousting 
of Harvey by the Council. Before Harvey left for England, however, he dis- 
missed Captain Pott from his post at Point Comfort and sent him back home 
as a prisoner. Pott was succeeded by Captain Francis Hooke, an oldtime 
officer of the Royal Navy, who died in 1637 after two years at the Point. 
Captain Christopher Wormeley, who had just finished a term as governor 
of Tortuga, served briefly at the fort until he decided to look for a more 
rewarding position, and he was followed by Captain Richard Morrison.-^ 

The chief problem of these successive commanders at Point Comfort was 
their difficulty in collecting the dues which provided their salaries, as the 
English sea captains showed no more enthusiasm for supporting the fort 
than did the tobacco planters. Ingenious captains escaped the castle duties 
by pointing out that the law authorized the commander at the fort to demand 
payment but did not require the ships to pay.-* When that loophole was 
closed by a new law, the merchants petitioned the Privy Council in London 
to suspend the payments on the ground that they interfered with free trade. 
So successful were these obstructive methods that when Captain Hooke died, 
the fort did not have enough powder for the funeral, and Captain Thomas 
WiUoughby had to lend the colony a hundred-pound barrel in order to give 
the late commander a proper send-off into the other world."^ The fort itself 
began to collapse, for the General Assembly in 1640 proposed a poll tax for 
a new fort at Point Comfort.-* 

Richard Morrison, who took over the fort early in 1638, had more success 
than his predecessors in winning revenue from his position. With the support 
of a long letter from Sir John Harvey and the colonial Council, he appealed 
to England for the restoration of the right to collect the sixpence fee. De- 
ciding that a sixpence is "but a thing of small value," the Privy Council on 
April 2, 1639, allowed him to resume his collection.-^ Captain Morrison 
enforced his rights with vigor, as is shown in the case of one contumacious 
sea captain who dared to defy the royal decree. As the minutes of the General 
Court described the event, "Philip Dyer, master of the ship George, did at 
his coming into the colony pass his majesty's fort of point comfort and 
contrary to the obedience & respect to be given to the said fort and contrary 
to the usual custom and order did not cast anchor within command of the 
said fort and the said captain going on board demanded the duty of the fort, 
which the said Dyer under sundry pretences and delays refused to satisfy him, 
thereupon being arrested and by the said captain in his majesty's name com- 
manded to go ashore, he the said Dyer refused and with scurrolous terms 
abused the said captain, contemning and slighting his authority. . . ." The 


stubborn Dyer found himself the loser by £15 sterling to his majesty and an 
equal sum to Captain Morrison.^" 

After Morrison sailed for England in 1641, leaving the fort in the hands 
of his nephew, Robert Morrison, the revenue seems to have dwindled away 
once more. At any rate. King Charles I found time in the midst of his war 
with the Parliamentary Army to send a request to his still-loyal Old Dominion 
that something be done for the support of Robert Morrison, "Left of the 
fort att Poynt Comfort," and the General Assembly generously assigned to 
him his majesty's quitrents from Northampton County.^^ The support of 
Morrison, however, did not insure the upkeep of the fort. When the threat 
of war with the Netherlands reached the colony in the summer of 1666 and 
the report spread of the arrival of a Dutch man-of-war to prey on the tobacco 
ships, the Council looked to the colonial defenses. The fort had a garrison 
of twenty men, but they were armed with nothing more dangerous than hoes. 
After ordering that these men be given weapons, the Council turned its at- 
tention to the eight cannon at the fort and decided that the best thing to do 
with them was to bury them to keep them out of the hands of the enemy. 
The Council therefore solemnly ordered that the guns be buried under four 
feet of earth, and that the garrison stand guard over this buried treasure in 
case the Dutch should try to make off with them.^' 

Recovering from this attack of economy in defense, the Council a few 
months later ordered the fort rebuilt with the aid of the duties the captain 
of the fort had been collecting.^^ The fort was still unfinished the following 
summer when the Dutch sailed boldly inside the Capes to capture several 
prizes. Colonel Leonard Yeo was therefore ordered to impress whatever men 
and materials he needed to rush the work to completion.*'' Unfortunately, a 
severe storm that year washed away the foundations, and the General Assem- 
bly refused to spend any more money on what it regarded as a useless 

The abandonment of the fort at Point Comfort marked the temporary 
end of Elizabeth City's role as gateway to the colony. In the first years of its 
existence as a county, it had witnessed some stirring scenes. On February 27, 
1633/34, for instance, two ships had anchored under the guns of Point 
Comfort on their way up the Chesapeake to found the new Catholic colony 
of Maryland. There at Point Comfort, Leonard Calvert and his men were 
greeted by the Governor of Virginia, Sir John Harvey, and his Secretary of 
State, "William Claiborne, that Kecoughtan landowner who was preparing to 
challenge Calvert for the fur trade of the Chesapeake.*® From his Kecoughtan 
base, Claiborne had carried on his fight to keep Kent Island out of the 
clutches of Maryland, and it was there that he had retired when he had 
finally lost the battle. 

Again, Elizabeth City was briefly in the limelight when Sir John Harvey 


returned in January of 1636/7 after two years of exile. Arrested by the re- 
bellious members of his Council and sent oft to England as a prisoner, he 
was reinstated by Charles I, who could not permit his royal authority to be 
flouted by such humiliating treatment of the royal representative. Sir John 
returned with orders for the dismissal of all the old Council members and the 
appointment of his friends in their place, but he was afraid to go at once 
to Jamestown, where he would be surrounded by his enemies. When he 
reached Point Comfort, therefore, he proceeded only as far as the parish 
church on the Strawberry Banks, where he summoned the members of the 
government to meet him and hear his orders.^" Although this precaution 
ensured his control of the government when he reached Jamestown, his power 
was soon overthrown once more. Three years later, he was again at Point 
Comfort, writing pitifully to his royal master for permission to return to 
England because he had lost all his estate and was suffering from "many 
infirmities & weaknesses of Body."^' 

When, a few years after Governor Harvey's departure, the colony was 
shaken by the first Indian massacre since 1622, Elizabeth City County was too 
far from the frontier to be directly affected, but the General Assembly chose 
the county's leading citizen, William Claiborne, as Virginia's first general to 
lead the counter-attack against the savages. Elizabeth City, like the other 
counties, was called upon to furnish its quota of men for the campaign of 
1644; as commanders of the Elizabeth City contingent, Claiborne nominated 
Captain Thomas Burbage, Captain Nathaniel Oldis, Lieutenant William 
Worlich, and Mr. Thomas Ceeley (Claiborne spelled it, and probably pro- 
nounced it, 'Cheeley").^'* Two years later the General Assembly ordered 
Elizabeth City to furnish eight of the sixty men who were to assemble "at 
Kickotan" on April 20, 1646 for the final campaign against Opechan- 

Thirty years later another Indian outbreak touched off the war which 
was to lead to Bacon's Rebellion. When Governor Berkeley early in 1676 
prepared to garrison a chain of forts along the frontier, Elizabeth City was 
called upon by the General Assembly to send nineteen men, along with a 
like number from Warwick and Charles City, "to be garrisoned neare the 
fTalls of Appamatuk river, at major generall Woods" — that is, at the present 
site of Petersburg. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Morrison and Captain Anthony 
Armistead were entrusted with the task of impressing men to fill up the 
county's quota.*" When the restless frontiersmen with Bacon at their head 
marched on Jamestown a few months later and took over the government, 
Elizabeth City seems to have taken little part in the brief civil war that fol- 
lowed. The only Elizabeth City rebel whose name has been preserved was 
one Charles Blanckevile, who was pardoned by the general court and subse- 
quently became "very active in stirring up the people to mutiny by speaking 


divers mutinous words in the county of Elizabetli Citty." For this renewal of 
his offense he was ordered to ask pardon on his knees with a rope around his 
neck at the next meeting of the county court. ''^ 

Meanwhile, the passage of two generations in the history of Elizabeth 
City County had made many changes since 1634. The shifting scenes are 
obvious in the fragmentary lists of county officials that have survived. The 
oldest extant list of commissioners subsequent to 1632, for example, con- 
tains not a single one of the 1632 justices. The names of those present at a 
meeting of the Elizabeth City court on May 27, 1646, preserved in the Lower 
Norfolk records, were: Captain William Claiborne, Captain Leonard Yeo, 
Captain Nathaniel Oldis, Mr. Thomas Ceeley (spelled "Sely" in the records), 
and Mr. John Shaunders. The last name was probably John Chandler, who 
was present at a meeting of the court on February 8, 1649/50, along with 
Anthony Elliott, John Robins, and Lieutenant William Worlich."*- This was 
very likely the same "John Chaundler," who had been listed as one of 
Thomas Willoughby's servants in the muster of 1624/25; if so, he had come 
to Virginia as a nine-year-old child in 1609 and had been one of the rugged 
sixty-odd who managed to survive "the starving time" that winter.*^ John 
Chandler, who was still attending court as late as 1652,'*^ was probably the 
last person left alive in Elizabeth City who could remember those terrible 
days in the infancy of the colony. 

Another ex-servant among the justices was William Worlich, who had 
come to Virginia in 1622 at the age of sixteen.*® His energy carried him to 
a position of wealth and influence, for the records in 1662 refer to him as 
a lieutenant colonel. He apparently, however, had not yet outgrown the self- 
made man's contempt for the crude manners of the lower classes. When 
Anne Price was brought up before the county court for her insolence to 
John Gundry, Lieutenant Colonel Worlich saw that the court sentenced her 
to two years as a servant of the colony. Anne Price carried her appeal against 
this punishment all the way to the colony's court of last resort, the General 
Assembly, which ruled that the sentence was indeed excessive and ordered 
that the Elizabeth City court give her a new trial; significantly. Colonel 
Worlich and his ally. Major Theophilus Hone, were not to sit on the bench 
during the rehearing of her case.*" 

The high death rate of seventeenth-century Virginia is indicated by the 
fact that not one of this second generation of county justices was left on the 
bench by 1680. This list of 1680, the oldest full list preserved in the county's 
history, contains eleven names: Colonel Charles Morrison, Captain Anthony 
Armistead, Major Matthew Wakelin, Mr. Bertrand Servant, Mr. Thomas 
HoUier, Mr. Baldwin Sheppard, Mr. Edward Myhill, Mr. Thomas Jervis, 
Mr. Augustine Moore, Mr. Thomas Wythe, and Mr. William Wilson.*^ 
Not one of these names appears as a justice on any earlier record; in fact. 


only the first name, one of the family that held the command at the Point 
Comfort fort, has any connection with previous Elizabeth City history. 

From what is known of other Virginia counties, it is safe to assume that 
many of these justices also served on the parish vestry, but unfortunately the 
vestry minutes prior to 1751 have been lost for more than a century. The 
interest of the Reverend John McCabe, who kept St. John's alive for many 
years before the Civil War, however, led him to make up for this lack by 
studying the county records, which at that time went back to 1635. His notes, 
preserved by Bishop Meade in his Old Churches. Ministers and Families of 
Virginia, gave us the names of Nicholas Brown and William Armistead, 
the church wardens in 1646, the only surviving record of members of the 
vestry during the early years of the county.'"* 

The McCabe notes did recover a nearly complete list of ministers, al- 
though a typographical error in Bishop Meade's book confused HefTelfinger, 
the later historian of St. John's Church, and this confusion was compounded 
by Dr. Lyon G. Tyler in his history of Hampton. According to Bishop 
Meade's account, the Reverend Philip Mallory was the minister in 1644, 
being succeeded the following year by the Reverend Justinian Aylmer, who 
served for twenty-two years until 1667. A misprint on the following page 
transforms the date of Aylmer's arrival from 1645 into 1665, but it is 
obvious from Bishop Meade's statement that 1645 is the correct date. 
Heffelfinger, uncertain as to which date to accept, set down the possibility 
that Philip Mallory remained in the parish until his death in l66l; he also 
listed William Wilkinson as a possible minister in 1644 because he was 
granted land at Buckroe in that year, although there was no other evidence 
that he had ever served in Elizabeth City parish. Both of HefJelfinger's sup- 
positions were repeated by Dr. Tyler as facts, but there seems to be no good 
reason for accepting either of them."*^ 

The crowning success of Aylmer's ministry was the erection of a new 
parish church, completed about the time his service in Elizabeth City ended. 
On December 21, 1667, Nicholas Baker, facing the end of his life, made his 
will, directing his body "to be decently buried in the new church of Kigho- 
tan," while in the same year, Robert Brough asked to be buried "in the old 
church of Kichotan."®" The site of this new church was discovered just prior 
to the Civil War by the Reverend John McCabe on what was then the 
Pembroke Farm, and it has thus come to be called the Pembroke Church, 
although this appears to be purely a modern name. The new building was 
erected about a mile and a half from the old church, farther up Hampton 
River and on the opposite bank, reflecting the march of settlement inland 
and to the west. Today its site is north of Queen Street, on the east side of 
State Route 1706, near the railway tracks. °^ 

Recent excavations have uncovered the brick foundations, revealing that 


it was a frame building about fifty by twenty-seven feet, or about the same 
size as the older church. The foundations rested on a footing two bricks wide 
and were themselves a brick and a half wide, laid in Flemish bond. A num- 
ber of interesting old tombstones with still legible inscriptions survive in the 
churchyard, which now once more belongs to the parish. The building was 
destroyed by fire after it was abandoned, as is evidenced by the charred wood 
and melted window glass found during the excavations.^- 

Aylmer's successor as minister, the Reverend Jeremiah Taylor, probably 
continued to preach in both the old and the new churches, serving alternately 
the members of his parish on either side of the river, since the old building 
survived for another thirty years. Perhaps because of his frequent ferryings 
across the river or merely on account of a naturally violent temper, the 
Reverend Mr. Taylor found himself in trouble with the local authorities. On 
one occasion the grand jury presented him for drunkenness and on another 
for slander. When he appeared before the county court, the justices became 
so indignant at his insolence and misbehavior that they ordered him confined 
in the county jail at their pleasure.^ 

In spite of these difficulties, Taylor remained in the parish for eight or 
ten years; ten years, according to Bishop Meade, eight years, according to 
Heffelfinger, who lists William Harris as minister from 1675 to 1677 without 
giving any authority for the statement. °'* In either case, the Reverend John 
Page became the Elizabeth City minister in 1677 and remained until 1687, 
when he was succeeded by Cope Doyley, who served for four years. ^° 

One duty of the minister and the justices was to serve as trustees for the 
two free schools which made Elizabeth City the best-educated county in 
Virginia. The first of these was founded by a bequest from Benjamin Syms, 
mentioned in the previous chapter as living in Basse's Choice, in what is 
now Isle of Wight County, in 1624/25. He was then aged thirty-three and 
apparently a widower, as a Margaret "Symes" is listed as dying in 1624.^* 
He planned to remarry, bringing over from England Joan Meatheart, but this 
romance broke up in a quarrel. Rather than go through with the marriage, 
Joan decided to work out her passage money by serving for two years, and 
Syms regained peace in his household by selling her services to John Gill.^^ 
Joan thus made possible the Syms free school, since the Virginia planter 
gave up his efforts to find another wife and left no heirs to whom he might 
bequeath his estate. 

Very little else is known of this first Virginia philanthropist beyond the 
fact that he figured in the bequests of two fellow colonists.^* His will, made 
on February 10, 1634/35, when he was forty-three, reveals that he had 
acquired two hundred acres of land upon Old Poquoson River and was en- 
titled to two hundred fifty more for the purchase of five servants in 1626. 
Since he was living on the south side of the James in 1625 and his will does 


not specifically mention his residence in 1635, it has sometimes been said that 
he never hved in Elizabetli City. There is good evidence, however, that he 
regarded Ehzabeth City as his home at the time he made his will. He names 
as one of his "well beloved friends" and executors, Mr. Thomas Oldis, later 
justice of Elizabeth City County, and his will was witnessed by the Elizabeth 
City clerk, Henry Poole. Since his cows were on his land in the county and 
his "Ewe goate" was at the home of John Branch at Back River, it may be 
assumed that he himself was keeping bachelor's quarters somewhere in the 
vicinity. ^^ 

The greatest mystery surrounds his bequest to "the Church of the old 
Poquoson," which he presumably attended, as no other reference has been 
found to a church on the old Poquoson. The late George Carrington Mason, 
historiographer of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, concluded that Syms 
was referring to the church on the Strawberry Banks,*" but this would have 
been an odd way to describe the Elizabeth City parish church. It is equally 
unlikely that Syms meant the church of the New Poquoson parish, established 
shortly thereafter in York County. The best guess is that at the time he made 
his will there was a hitherto unknown Poquoson parish on Back River in 
Elizabeth City County to take care of those persons who found the Straw- 
berry Banks too distant to reach on Sunday morning. This is confirmed by 
a reference in his will to "the adjoining Parrishes of Elizb. City & Poquoson 
(viz) from Mary's Mount [Newport News} downward to the Poquoson 

Although it must remain uncertain what Poquoson parish Syms meant, its 
children were to share with those of Elizabeth City the privilege of attending 
the free school for which he left as endowment his two hundred acres of land 
upon the Old Poquoson and eight milch cows. "The use of the said Land 
with the Milk and Increase Male of the said Cattle," he wrote, was "to be 
for the Mantaynance of an honest Learned Man to keep upon the said 
Ground a free school to educate & teach the Children of the adjoining 
Parrishes." "My Will and Desire," he added, "is that when it please God 
there is sufficient Increase of the said Cattle tht some part of them be sould 
for the Erecting of a very sufficient school house. "*- 

Syms died within a year of writing his will, for a lease made to Thomas 
Andrews in 1636 describes the rented tract as "bordering up the school lands 
formerly called Benjamin Syms land."*^ The trustees set up by the will, the 
county court and the ministers and churchwardens of the parish, were ap- 
parently uncertain as to the status of their endowment under Virginia law, 
as they appealed to the General Assembly for confirmation. In March 
1642/43 the Assembly declared: 


Be it also enacted and confirmed upon consideration had of the godly dis- 
position and good intent of Benjamin Symms, dec. in founding by his last 
will and testament a freeschool in Elizabeth City county, for the incourage- 
ment of all others in like pious performances, that the said will and testament 
with all donations therein contained concerning the freeschool and the scitua- 
tion thereof in the said county and the land appurteining to the same, shall 
be confirmed according to the true meaning and godly intent of the said 
testator without any alienation or conversion thereof to any place or county. ""^ 

Although there are no surviving records of the trustees, a letter sent to 
England in 1647 reported on the flourishing state of the school, declaring: 
"I may not forget to tell you we have a Free-Schoole with two hundred 
Acres of Land, a Fine House upon it, forty milch Kine and other accom- 
modations to it; the Benefactor deserves Perpetuall memory. His name, Mr. 
Benjamin Symes, worthy to be chronicled."*® It is thus clear that ten years 
after Syms's death the dairy herd had multiplied five times with enough 
surplus to provide a house for the schoolmaster. 

The success of the Syms school led another childless Virginian named 
Dr. Thomas Eaton to make a similar bequest in 1659. Eaton is an even 
more shadowy figure than Syms, since little is known about him except that 
he had arrived in Virginia by 1631, for in that year he appeared in a suit 
against Captain Samuel Mathews.**'' On March 11, 1634/35, he patented two 
hundred fifty acres of land at the head of Back River and added another 
six hundred three years later.®^ He is said to have been the brother of 
Nathaniel Eaton, the first head of Harvard, who later spent some time in 
Virginia. His will — or, to be more accurate, the deed of gift by which the 
school was established — was preserved by some miracle; it was torn out of 
the book in which it was recorded, but the loose pages managed to survive 
while the record book itself was destroyed. '*'* 

Eaton's gift included five hundred acres of land extending along the 
southern side of Back River toward the head, with all the buildings and 
orchards, twelve cows and two bulls, twenty hogs, two Negroes, and house- 
hold equipment including a bedstead, a table, an iron kettle, a cheese press, 
and twelve "milch trays." He named the same trustees as the Syms school 
had with the same general regulations, but added the provision that only 
children born in Elizabeth City County might receive free education in his 
school. Fittingly enough, Eaton's deed was witnessed by Henry Poole, the 
county clerk who almost twenty-five years before had stood by while Benjamin 
Syms made his mark on his last will and testament. ^^ 

After more than a half century had passed since the creation of Elizabeth 
City County, two free schools were prospering in the Back River area, there 
was a new church on the west bank of Hampton River, the sturdy old church 
on the Strawberry Banks still stood, and there was scarcely a person left alive 


who could remember when it was built. Now, at last, with the recovery of the 
county records beginning in 1688, the veil which covers Elizabeth City's early 
history lifts a little, and we can get a better idea of what the county was like 
as the seventeenth century came to an end. 

In spite of its small area there was still much land left in swamp and 
forest. Wolves still roamed in the wilderness, and hunters regularly brought 
to the county court the two wolves' ears for which they collected the 
stipulated bounties. Sometimes as many as eight bounties were claimed at 
a single sitting of the court, and not until 1699 was the last wolf killed.'''' 
There were Indians as well as wolves left in the county, although the savage 
redskins who remained had been thoroughly domesticated. The ones known 
to us are those who appeared in the records as servants to the white man, 
usually for a term of thirty years. One Indian woman belonged to William 
Marshall on an uncertain tenure; the appraisers of his estate in 1693 thought 
her worth £25 sterling "if a slave for life." Major William Armistead 
bought an Indian man named Thomas about 1685; thirty-one years later 
Thomas convinced the county court that his term of service was up, and he 
was set free. Tavernkeeper William Smelt owned another Indian woman, 
and as late as 1728 an Indian girl named Marcellina was listed in the estate 
of John Dudley.^^ 

The population of Elizabeth City had grown relatively little since its crea- 
tion, as its small size left it scant room for expansion. Although there are 
no precise figures, the sheriff reported 365 tithables in 1693, 389 in 1696, 
and 410 in 1698.''^ Since the tithables represented the adult male whites and 
all the Negroes, they included from one-fourth to half the population, de- 
pending upon the proportion of whites to Negroes. In 1693, therefore, there 
were probably not more than a thousand persons in the entire county, or 
only about fifteen per cent more than in 1634, when it had, of course, in- 
cluded the south side of Hampton Roads. The rapid growth of more than 
ten per cent from 1693 to 1698 probably reflects the rise of the town of 
Hampton in the l690's. 

Prosperity in the last decade of the seventeenth century appears to have 
encouraged Elizabeth City to build a new courthouse. In 1689 court was 
being held in an ordinary kept by Worlich Westwood, evidently a grandson 
of Colonel William Worlich.''^ Nine years later, when Walter Bayley pulled 
down the old church on the Strawberry Banks, he also put up benches in the 
courthouse, presumably a different building from Worlich Westwood's or- 
dinary.''* Nothing was done to improve the highways, however, as a year 
later the governor was writing to the county court to make a formal com- 
plaint about the impassable conditions of the roads.''^ 

Even in a courtroom without benches, the justices were careful to uphold 
the dignity of their position. When one of their number. Captain Henry 


Jenkins, lost several slaves in 1695, a member of the lower classes named 
Robert Taylor made the contemptuous comment that, if Captain Jenkins would 
pay off all his debts, he would not have a Negro left to his name. A jury was 
impaneled, which found Taylor guilty of slander, and the court sentenced 
him to a fine of £20 and three months imprisonment.^^ 

On another occasion the justices were equally severe. In 1693 Anna Wall, 
a free Englishwoman, was brought up for having disgraced herself by giving 
birth to a mulatto child. She was sentenced to five years' service in punish- 
ment and was sold out of the county to Peter Hobson of Norfolk Town, 
along with the child which was bound to serve the same master until it was 
thirty, the customary term of service for mulatto children in these circum- 
stances. The court added the stern warning that, if Anna ever returned to 
Elizabeth City, she would be banished to Barbados.^" 

The court, however, was ready to show kindness and understanding when- 
ever it was deserved. In 1692, for instance, Jane Scott appeared with a sad 
story of domestic difficulties. Several years before she and her child had been 
forced to flee from her husband's home because of his "hard and ill usage." 
When her husband left for England, she appealed to his attorney for 1,000 
pounds of tobacco for the support of herself and her child, but the attorney 
had refused the request. The court at once relieved her troubles by ordering 
the sheriff to seize 1500 pounds of tobacco from her husband's estate.^* 

The justices went even further in handling the case of the runaway Rivers 
children. The four children, the oldest a boy of fourteen named John, evi- 
dently did not like their stepfather, as they all repeatedly ran away from 
home and lived in the woods for as long as a fortnight. The court decided 
to solve this problem in juvenile delinquency by binding the children out to 
other families, where they might lead happier lives. John was handed over 
to Thomas Curie, who proposed to make a sailor out of him, but next month 
he was back in court, announcing that he did not want to go to sea. Granting 
his request that he be taught a trade, the justices bound him out again, this 
time to William Hudson and his wife Susannah "to learn the art of a 
shoomaker.""" It may be doubted that John ever completed his apprenticeship 
as a shoemaker, since his master two years later took out a license as a 

Even though a shoemaker still had to sell liquor to make both ends meet 
in Elizabeth City, other artisans were already settling there. The county had 
a blacksmith with the highly appropriate name of John Smith, who, in 1694, 
purchased a servant named Thomas Best from Captain Parsons in the York 
River. According to the terms of the indenture registered with the county 
court, Best was "to learn ye art and trade of a smith, to be paid a complete 
sett of smith's tools with corn and cloathes according to custom" at the end 
of his service.*^ Another optimistic artisan was Walter Bayley, who arrived 


in 1694 with his wife, three children, and four slaves to undertake the 
making of cloth. The county court gave him a bonus of 400 pounds of 
tobacco "for encouragement in making ye prime piece of lynen cloth 22 
yards. "*^ Bayley too soon had to eke out his income in other ways, for, it 
will be remembered, three years later he received another 400 pounds of 
tobacco from the court, not for making cloth, but for pulling down the old 

The biggest industrial enterprise in the county was sponsored by Bertrand 
Servant, a Frenchman who arrived in Virginia in the early l660's and was 
on the county court by 1680, although he was not naturalized until 1698. 
Servant, probably a Huguenot refugee, about 1689 put up the capital to bring 
Isaac Molyn, who may have been a fellow Frenchman, from New England 
along with a Negro woman, Tona, and three workmen to build a grist and 
saw mill at the head of Back River. Unlike the earlier mills of Elizabeth 
City, this was operated by water power and required the construction of a 
dam, a fairly formidable engineering project for that time and place. The mill 
seems to have worked very well, for by 1692 Molyn was operating it with 
no help but Tona. In fact, the mill worked too well, according to one of 
Molyn's ex-employees, who claimed that he had been able to grind corn meal 
as fine as the finest wheat flour. To his surprise, Molyn, who preferred his 
corn meal coarse, had cursed the workman for spoiling the meal, and the 
aggrieved miller took his case to court. *^ 

The presence of still other artisans in Elizabeth City is indicated by an- 
other court decision of 1694 ordering that Thomas Powell "be bound to a 
trade." The story of young Thomas Powell is one of the fullest preserved 
in the old records. In 1688, apparently on the death of his father, Thomas, 
Sr., his mother, Hannah, had bound out the child as an apprentice to the 
Widow WiUoby (or Westoby — the name appears both ways in the records), 
who married Stephen Howard. Howard gave the boy such "Cruell and 111 
Usage by tying and Whipping of him Most Inhumanely" that he ran away to 
Major William Wilson, one of the justices, and appealed to him for protec- 
tion. After hearing the boy's story. Major Wilson sent him to his mother, 
who had meanwhile married William Crooke. Howard promptly brought suit 
against Crooke for entertaining his wife's runaway servant, and Crooke re- 
plied with a counter-suit that Howard had not performed his part of the 
bond. The court dismissed Howard's suit and required him to put the boy 
"to Schoole to Learne him to Read a Chapter in the Byble" under penalty 
of forfeiting 1,000 pounds of tobacco. Instead of sending Thomas to school, 
Howard sent him back to his mother, and it was then that the justices ordered 
him to be bound to a trade. "^^ 

The requirement that children be educated was general at this time, even 
when they were girls. Young Eliza Miller, aged eleven, was bound out in 


1692 to Thomas and Eliza Hawks with the requirement that she be taught 
"to read a chapter in the Byble, the Lord's Prayer and the ten command- 
ments," on pain of forfeiting 500 pounds of tobacco if they failed to do so.*^ 
Since this order did not stipulate that she be sent to school, it is not certain 
that she was to be sent to one of the free schools, but there is no evidence 
that girls were not taught there. 

The records give a few glimpses of the operation of these schools at this 
time. In October, 1692, for example, Ebenezer Taylor* had just finished his 
term as schoolmaster at Eaton's Free School without taking proper care of 
the Negro woman belonging to the school, probably one of those given by 
Dr. Eaton in 1659. Finding that she was almost naked, the court ordered 
Taylor to clothe her properly. The ex-schoolmaster was given fourteen days 
to turn over to Henry Royall, one of the "Feoffees"- — that is, trustees — "one 
new cotton wastecoat and pettycoate, 3 yards of good new canvis for a shift, 
one pare new shoon & stockins & alsoe 2 barrells of sound Indian Corne for 
the negroes use."®" This was very likely the Negro woman Joan who three 
years later was excused on account of her age from paying taxes in the future 
and allowed to keep whatever crop she could make for her own main- 

The master at the Syms School in 1693 was Robert Crooke, possibly a 
relative of the "William Crooke who came to the defense of his stepson, 
Thomas Powell. Crooke appeared in the records because he had to repair 
the schoolhouse and was allowed two old cows in payment for his expendi- 
tures.** Four years later George Eland was elected "Schoolmaster of Eaton's 
Free School & he to continue in place as shall be approved of from year to 
year Teaching all such children in English and gramer learninge as shall be 
sent to him that are belonging to this county, and he shall have all such 
pquisetts and prftts as is belonging to the sd schoole."*^ 

Eland apparently continued only two years in his position, for the fall of 
1699 found new teachers in both the Elizabeth City schools. Although the 
county clerk did not bother to mention them in his records, as so often hap- 
pened, their names got into the minutes of the colonial Council, and we thus 
learn the method by which the teachers acquired their teaching certificates. 
In the one case, Stephen Lylly had called upon the governor in search of a 
position and the governor had referred him to the Elizabeth City Court. That 
court approved him as "a fitt pson for Teaching youth Writing & ye English 
Lang," and sent him back to the governor for his teaching license. The court 
also found Charles Goring capable of teaching reading, writing, and arith- 
metic and asked that he likewise be licensed.^" We cannot be certain whether 
the court's failure to ask to have Lylly certified in arithmetic means that he 

*Later a resident of Princess Anne County (See Chapter XX) . 


was deficient in mathematics, but if Lylly's abilities were indeed the lesser, 
it may be assumed that he was the teacher at the Syms School since that had 
the smaller endowment of the two. 

The method of administering the endowments is revealed by a lease 
recorded June 19, 1699, which indicates a long-established practice. It re- 
ports that William Williams had leased for twenty-one years that part of 
"Eaton's Free-school land . . . whereon John Tams lately lived." In return 
for the use of the land, Williams was to improve the land by building a 
substantial thirty-foot dwelling house and planting one hundred apple trees 
and also to pay an annual rent of 200 pounds of tobacco to the school- 
master."^ Since the lease does not record the size of the tract, it is impossible 
to estimate the total salary of the teacher, but it was evidently not high 
enough to keep the schoolmaster very long in his place. 

The location of the two schools was beginning to be a disadvantage, since 
they were at the opposite end of the county from the growing center of 
population on Hampton River. The beginning of the town of Hampton was 
a law passed in June, 1680, entitled "An act for cohabitation and encourage- 
ment of trade and manufacture," which ordered the laying out of 50 acres 
of land in each county for the building of a town and warehouses. The site 
chosen for the town in Elizabeth City County was the plantation which had 
once belonged to William Claiborne, but which had come into the hands of 
Thomas Jarvis."- The mistress of the Jarvis plantation was the former Eliz- 
abeth Duke, who had come to Virginia as the wife of Nathaniel Bacon and, 
following his death during the rebellion, had ended a brief widowhood by 
marrying Jarvis. 

This act did not take effect, however. Since one of its purposes was to 
bring the tobacco trade under closer regulation by centralizing it at one point 
in each county, the tobacco merchants protested against this interference with 
free enterprise and persuaded the king to suspend it. Nevertheless, the laws 
of economics were accomplishing what the laws of the General Assembly 
could not. Since the passing of the fort at Point Comfort, there had been no 
official entry point for ships entering the bay, and vessels in search of a brief 
rest from the ocean voyage before proceeding into the interior had found 
the anchorage inside Hampton River the most convenient spot. In spite of 
the suspension of the act of 1680, several dwelling houses and warehouses 
were built on the Jarvis plantation. 

In 1691, the assembly again tried to force Virginians to live in towns 
with a new law similar to that of 1680. Once more the Jarvis plantation on 
the west side of Hampton River was selected as the site for the port of 
Elizabeth City, but the land by now was in the possession of Mr. William 
Wilson, not yet the county's major.*^ Although this law was disallowed by 
the king in 1693, the town of Hampton had already been formally laid out. 


Three feoffees, Thomas Ailamby, William Marshall, and Pascho Curie, were 
appointed in 1692,"* and they laid out two streets, named in honor of William 
and Mary, King and Queen. King, the mam street, led down to the wharf 
at the river, while the longer Queen Street crossed it at right angles, forming 
a short-legged T. Some twenty-six half-acre lots were sold at the time of 
laying the tax levy in 1693. Since there was some doubt as to whether this 
sale was valid in view of the royal veto. Major William Wilson, the county 
sheriff, was ordered in 1694 to collect 1178 pounds of tobacco from each 
person who had taken up a lot."'' 

A sign of one of the inevitable problems of a port town came as early as 
1692 when William Marshall, feoffee of Hampton and justice of Elizabeth 
City, was murdered by several sailors."" The murder of Marshall, however, did 
not discourage others from the lucrative prospects of entertaining the roister- 
ing seamen. Five persons — John Knox, Shoemaker William Hudson, Thomas 
Skinner, John Bright, and Coleman Brough — were granted licenses to keep 
ordinaries at Hampton in 1696,"' and in 1697 four more names were added 
to the list, William Smelt and three women named Anne Anderson, Sarah 
Middleton, and Mary Downes.** After that, it seemed very appropriate to 
appoint a constable in 1698, but that did not satisfy the governor who, in 
1699, came down with an iron hand upon the lively spirits of King Street. 
He reminded the Elizabeth City court that a law limited each town to two 
ordinaries, and the justices obediently revoked the licenses of all the tippling 
houses but those operated by the two Williams, Hudson and Smelt.®" 

The General Assembly was to make one more attempt to give Hampton 
some legal status. A new law passed in October, 1703, for the first time gave 
the town its new name, which was still generally ignored by local people 
who persisted in using the century-old Indian name of Kecoughtan. The law 
attempted to cover Virginia with English "burghs," equipped with the full 
panoply of medieval privileges. The infant town of Hampton, for example, 
was "to have Wednesday and Saturday in each week for market days, and 
the tenth day of October and four following days, exclusive of Sundays, 
annually for their fair."*"** 

Although this law, like its predecessors, eventually fell before the royal 
veto in 1710, and Hampton thus lost its right to an annual fair, the town 
needed no legislative support to justify its existence. For the moment it was 
one of the two largest towns in Virginia; Jamestown was dying, Williamsburg 
had just been born in 1699, and Hampton and Norfolk were the only 
commercial centers the colony had. Its functions were not limited to furnish- 
ing recreation for the sailors on the tobacco ships. As has been noted, a group 
of artisans had set up their shops to take care of other necessities for the 
seamen. The town was the home of Peter Heyman, collector of His Majesty's 
customs for the lower James. Another resident was John Minson, who earned 

Va. 9 


his living by piloting vessels up the James River. One shipmaster vi'ho 
neglected securing the proper pilot furnished the community with some 
excitement in December, 1696, when the William and Mary, sailing out of 
New York, was wrecked on the Horseshoe off Point Comfort.'"^ 

The biggest excitement in the young community's brief history, however, 
was to come just as the century was turnmg, in the lull that followed King 
William's War. The war itself had had no effect on Virginia, which was 
indeed fortunate, as the colony was completely unfortified, and Elizabeth 
City's militia in 1698 numbered only 184 men under the command of Major 
William Wilson. It included a troop of 36 cavalry, headed by Captain Willis 
Wilson, and tu'o companies of infantry, commanded by Captain William 
Armistead and Captain Augustine Moore, with respective strengths of 81 
and 67 men.'"~ As the war ended, a number of privateers refused to give up 
their profitable profession and thus in time of peace became pirates. In the 
summer of 1699, a pirate vessel, the Alexander, boldly entered the Chesapeake 
and captured two merchantmen, while the small royal guardship, the Essex 
Prize, looked helplessly on. As a result, the English Admiralty sent a larger 
vessel, the Shorehani, to strengthen the defenses of the Chesapeake. ^"^ 

A word should be said at this point concerning the protection of shipping. 
This is a problem which was present from the very beginning of the British 
Colonial era, because of the threat of hostile Spanish and Dutch vessels; 
apparently no systematic attempt was made to solve it until the l660's. First 
it was proposed that homeward-bound ships — particularly those bearing val- 
uable cargoes of tobacco — should sail together at stated times for mutual 
protection. Then Royal Naval vessels were assigned to act as guard-ships 
in Chesapeake Bay, and as escorts for ships sailing in convoy. For instance 
there was the 46-gun Elizabeth, which was destroyed by the Dutch during 
the hostilities of 1667. A little later, the Quaker and the Deptford, both 
ketches, were assigned here. Next two larger vessels, the Dumbarton and 
the Wolfe were on the scene. The Swift, an "advice boat" — dispatch boat, 
in modern terms — ran aground below Cape Henry in 1697, and was soon re- 
placed by the Essex Prize, and later by the Shoreham. a fifthrater of thirty 
guns, mentioned above. It was customary for tobacco ships to assemble at 
Point Comfort or Lynnhaven for convoy, and to go up the rivers — Elizabeth, 
Nansemond and others — under such forts as there were for protection. Look- 
outs were posted at Point Comfort, between Cape Henry and Lynnhaven, 
and below Cape Henry. Such was the situation at the beginning of 1700.'°^* 

Among those who accompanied Gov. Nicholson on board Shoreham 
during the engagement was Captain Aldred of the Essex Prize, the guard- 
ship which Shoreham replaced. The Essex Prize was at that time careened in 
Elizabeth River, probably at Powder Point, in preparation for a homeward 
voyage. On 9 June 1700, she was ready to sail for England with a convoy 


of fifty-seven ships. This was not an unusual number, for we are told these 
convoys sometimes were in the vicinity of 100 vessels. The ships of this 
convoy varied greatly in size and armament: all the way from unarmed to 
twenty guns, and with crews numbering from five to thirty-two men. They 
hailed from or were bound to such English ports as London, Liverpool, 
Plymouth, Bristol, Fowey, Biddeford, Barnstaple, Hull, Whitehaven and 
Dartmouth; as well as the ports of Dublin, Belfast, and the Islands of 
Guernsey and Jersey. There were only two Virginia ships m the whole con- 
voy: the Indian King of six guns and a crew of twenty-eight, and the un- 
armed Harwich Prize carrying a crew of only ten men."'' 

The following April, a French pirate, Louis Guittar, in his deceptively- 
named ship. La Paix, arrived in Chesapeake Bay with five prizes. The 
Shorebani's commander, William Passenger, along with Governor Francis 
Nicholson, was ashore enjoying the Sunday afternoon hospitality of Colonel 
William Wilson, when word arrived that La Paix was anchored in Lynn- 
haven Bay. Governor Nicholson at once ordered Passenger to attack, but a 
contrary wind forced the Shoreham to anchor at dark about three leagues off. 
The governor himself, along with Collector Peter Heyman and several other 
gentlemen, sailed out that night and went aboard the Shoreham to watch 
the impending battle. 

At dawn on Monday morning the Shoreham opened fire upon the French- 
man. The fight went on until the middle of the afternoon, with the pirate 
taking a heavy battering. Thirty-nine of her crew were killed, and her lines 
were shot away so that she finally ran aground at Lynnhaven and was forced 
to strike her colors. Quarter was granted because of the many prisoners in 
the hold, and what was left of the pirate crew were carried off to Hampton 
as captives. Three of them were hanged under sentence of the court, and the 
other ninety-nine were sent off to England in chains. The Hampton black- 
smiths, including John Smith and his apprentice, Thomas Best, were kept 
busy for days forging the necessary irons. ^''■' 

To Governor Nicholson's great sorrow, however, his friend, Peter Heyman 
had been shot down at his side in the midst of the battle. Heyman's body was 
carried out to the Elizabeth City parish church north of the town and there 
interred. The governor himself erected a tombstone over the grave and had 
carved thereon a still legible inscription telling the story of Heyman's death. 
The tombstone reads: 

This Stone was given by His 
Excellency Francis Nicholson 
Esq Lieutenant and Governor 
Generall of Virginia in Memory of 
Peter Heyman Esq Grandson 
to Sir Peter Heyman of Sumerfield 


in ye County of Kent he was 
Collector of ye customs in the 
Lower District of James River and 
went voluntarily on Board ye Kings 
shipp Shoreham in Pursuit of a 
Pyrate who greatly infested this 
coast after he had behaved himself 
seven hours wth undaunted courage 
was killed wth a small shot ye 29''i 

Day of April 1700 
in ye Engagement he stood Next ye 
Governour upon the Quarter Deck 
and was here Honorably interred 

by his order. ^"■'^ 

It was noted above that, although quarter was granted, three of the 
pirates were hanged. The reason for this was that they were not then on 
board La Paix and were therefore not included in the terms of surrender. 
For example, when her colors were struck, the pilot John Houghling swam 
ashore and was captured near Lynnhaven; two others — Cornelius Franc and 
Frangois Delaunee — were then aboard one of the pirates' prizes. A special 
Court of Admirality was convened at Elizabeth City County Court House to 
try these three; it was composed of Mr. Justice Edward Hill and fourteen 
other commissioners, any five of whom could act. Five of these were members 
of the Council of State and the other nine were from various places, at least 
four — judging from their names* — probably being residents of Elizabeth 
City. Peter Beverley of Gloucester, brother of the historian, was clerk of 
arraignment. Both a grand and petit jury were impanelled by Sheriff Walter 
Bayliss on Monday, 13 May 1700. On Tuesday, the grand jury returned true 
bills against all three accused; the petit jury then proceeded to find John 
Houghling guilty. On Wednesday, Franc and Delaunee were tried and the 
latter found not guilty. On Thursday, Delaunee was indicted, tried and con- 
victed for other acts of piracy committed by him prior to the Lynnhaven 
incident. And on Friday, 17 May 1700, all three were sentenced to be 
hanged. The sequel to the story took place in Princess Anne County — near 
where the crimes were committed — and will be detailed in another place.'"' 

Notes on Chapter V 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 

1. The list is given in 1 H 170, 187. Since William English became the first sheriff of Charles 
River (later York) County, he probably did not serve in Elizabeth City County. 

*William Wilson, Anthony Armistead, William Cary, William Roscoe. 


2. "Captain William Tucker His Muster," in Annie Lash Jester, ed., Adventuren of Purse and 
Person, Virginia, 1607-1625, p. 49. 

3. Jester, p. 52 ; Chapman. Wills and Administrations of Elizabeth City County, pp. 58, 64. 

4. Jester, pp. 53, 359; Chapman, pp. 58, 64. 

5. Jester, pp. 65, 66. 

6. Jester, p. 329- 

7. Minutes of the General Court in 25 V 119. 

8. Jester, pp. 329, 330. 

9. 8 V 302. 

10. 14 V 185. 

11. 5 V 238. 

12. Hale, Virginia Venturer, p. 208. 

13. 9 W (1) 90. 

14. Reproduced in Starkey, The First Plantation, p. 65. 

15. 1 H 301. 

16. 1 H 348. 

17. 1 H 161. 

18. 5 V 361. 

19. 5 V 234. 

20. Mason, Colonial Churches of Tidewater Virginia, p. 105. 

21. Mason, pp. 104, 105. 

22. Mason, p. 105. 

23. 7 V 370. 

24. 3 V 22-25. 

25. 3 V 22-23. 

26. 3 V 25. 

27. 3 V 22-23. 

28. 1 H 226. 

29. 11 V 285. 

30. 11 V 280. 

31. 1 H 320. 

32. 5 V 113. 

33. 8 V 238. 

34. 5 V 117. 

35. Hale, pp. 174-176. 

36. Hale, pp. 213-214. 

37. 13 V 388. 

38. Hale, pp. 247-250. 

39. 1 H 318. 

40. 2 H 328, 330. 

41. 2 H 554. 

42. 8 V 107, 108. 

43. Jester, p. 53. 

44. 8 V 108. 

45. Jester, p. 58. 

46. 2 H 157. 

47. Tyler, History of Hampton, p. 27. 

48. Meade, Old Churches . , . of Virginia, I, 230. 

49. HeflFelfinger, p. 18; Tyler, p. 25. 

50. Mason, p. 105. 

51. Mason, p. 106. 

52. Mason, pp. 106-107. 

53. Meade, I, 231. 

54. Meade, I, 231; Heffelfinger, p. 18. 

55. Meade, I, 231. 

56. Jester, pp. 47, 48. 

57. Campbell, "The Syms and Eaton Schools," p. 2. 

58. Campbell, pp. 2, 3. 

59. Campbell, pp. 22, 23. 

60. Mason, p. 104. 

61. Campbell, p. 22. 


62. Ibid. 

63. Campbell, p. 3. 

64. 1 H 252. 

65. Quoted in Campbell, p. 4. 

66. 10 V 286. 

67. Campbell, p. 3. 

68. Campbell, p. 23n. 

69. Campbell, pp. 23-24. 

70. Starkey, p. 16. 

71. Starkey, pp. 31, 32. 

72. Starkey, p. 17. 

73. Starkey, p. 15. 

74. Mason, p. 105. 

75. Starkey, p. 16. 

76. Starkey, p. 20. 

77. Starkey, p. 22 ; Hobson was formerly a resident of Hampton. 

78. Starkey, p. 21. 

79. Starkey, pp. 21-22. 

80. Tyler, p. 29. 

81. Starkey, p. 29. 

82. Starkey, p. 27. 

83. Ibid. 

84. Campbell, pp. 6-7. 

85. Starkey, p. 35. 

86. Ompbell, p. 6; Taylor was later in Princess Anne County, and in 1694 donated the land for 
the second Lynnhaven Parish Church, predecessor of Old Donation. (See Kellam, p. 27.) 

87. Campbell, p. 7. 

88. Campbell, p. 6. 

89. Campbell, pp. 7-8. 

90. 20 W (1) 169. 

91. Campbell, p. 8. 

92. 2 H 472; this aim is discussed in detail in Chapter XII, injrj. 

93. 3 H 59, see also Chapter XII, infra. 

94. Tyler, p. 29; 10 W (1) 282. 

95. 20 W (1) 168. 

96. "The Tabb Family," 13 W (1) 125. 

97. Tyler, p. 29. 

98. 20 W (1) 169. 

99. Starkey, p. 16. 

100. 3 H 416; see also Chapter XII, infra. 

101. Starkey, p. 17. 

102. George Harrison Sanford King, "Virginia Militia Officers, 1698," 49 V 304. 

103. Middleton, Tobacco Coast, p. 316. 

103a. Williams, Pirates of Colonial Virginia, pp. 5-8. 

104. Middleton, p. 317; Heffelfinger, p. 20. 

105. 14 W (1) 168-9. 

106. Williams, op. cit., pp. 53-75. 

107. Middleton, "Chesapeake Convoy System," 3 W (3) 182-207. 

Chapter VI 

Elizabeth City County and the Town of Hampton 


By Marvin W. Schlegel 

DURING THE FIRST half of the eighteenth century Elizabeth City 
grew rapidly; the number of tithables rose steadily from 410 in 
1698 to 1,125 in 1747. Although the population did not increase 
in the same proportion because of the increase in the number of Negro slaves, 
there were probably twice as many people in the county in 1747 as there 
had been at the beginning of the century. Most of this growth was in the 
town of Hampton, since farming had already begun to decline. The long- 
tilled soil of Elizabeth City County was approaching exhaustion in com- 
parison with the fresh lands being opened up in the Piedmont, and tobacco 
planting was gradually dying out. By the 1740's the county lands were 
described as being "chiefly in pasture."' 

There was still much grain being produced in the county, however, as is 
indicated by the regular applications to the county court for permission to 
build a mill on Back River. Almost every year some one appeared with a plan 
for another mill, and the court appointed viewers to estimate the amount of 
damage to property owners which would be caused by the building of the 
dam. In 1729, for example, Samuel Tomkins asked for a permit to erect a 
mill at Finches' Dam, near the York County line. Sheriff Robert Armistead, 
who had a mill himself, was ordered to summon a jury to determine the 
damages. The jury apparently found that the mill would have little effect, 
for Tomkins was required to pay damages only to John Patrick, and the 
amount was a mere ten shillings.- 

In addition to these millers on Back River, more skilled craftsmen were 
settling in the town of Hampton. Apprenticeship records indicate the presence 
of sawyers, carpenters, shoemakers, and coopers. There are references in 
1726 and 1727 in the court records to John Ryland, glazier, John Henry 
Rombrough, joiner, John Middleton, carpenter, Benjamin Rolfe, shipwright, 
and John Smith, the blacksmith.^ A few years later a jeweler was advertising 
in the newly-founded Virginia Gazette: 

Samuel Gait, of Elizabeth City County, 7nakes and mends all Sorts of 
Clocks and Watches: Gold, Silver and Jewellers ]Vork; also Billiard Balls 
and Dice. 


N. B. Gentlemen and others may be furnisb'd tvHh any of the abovesaid 
Works, either at his own House, on Mill-Creek, near Hampton, or at Mr. 
John MacDowell's in Hampton, for Cash, broken Gold or Silver, Tobacco, 
Pork, Wheat or Corn.* 

Whether the "Gentlemen and others" of Elizabeth City County kept 
Samuel Gait busy repairing their watches must remain uncertain, as the 
jeweler on Mill Creek did not advertise again; perhaps he may have been 
forced to supplement his income by working at the old windmill near his 
home. The gentlemen probably were interested in his billiard balls and dice, 
however, as they represented divertissements very popular in eighteenth cen- 
tury Virginia. Along with these new pastimes, there was a more old-fashioned 
way of losing money; Elizabeth City men were so fond of betting on their 
horses that there were no less than three "race paths" laid out in Isaac Prilly's 
field. Although wagers between gentlemen seldom found their way into the 
court records, an interesting dispute in 1725 gives us a little glimpse of this 
custom. On that occasion William Copland and Samuel Sweny backed their 
"gueldings" to the extent of £10 each and went off to Isaac Prilly's field to 
settle the wager. When they arrived, Copland was surprised to discover that 
the course had been lengthened by l40 yards, presumably from the customary 
quarter-mile distance. Sweny, confident that his horse had the better wind, 
insisted on racing the new length, while Copland protested that the bet 
applied only to the old course. Copland took his case to court, but the records 
unfortunately do not tell us what the racing experts on the bench decided 
in this matter.^ 

These horses, of course, were not specially bred for racing, like the modern 
racehorse, but were only the ordinary Virginia "quarter horse,"* ridden by 
everyone who could afford one. They were common enough in Elizabeth City 
County to receive special consideration in an act of 1702 reestablishing the 
ferry across Hampton River once kept by Henry Hawley. The act required 
that a ferry be constantly kept "at Hampton towne from the town point to 
Brooks point, the price for a man three pence, for a man and horse six 
pence."'' Discovering that these rates were too low to attract a ferryman, the 
county court granted additional incentives by freeing the ferrykeeper of all 
taxes and, even more attractive in view of the visiting sailors in Hampton, 
the privilege of keeping an ordinary without paying a license fee. Rachel 
Skinner, who kept the ferry from 1736 to 1738, was apparently more in- 
terested in her tavern than in her ferryboats, since Samuel Sweny, who had 
gone her security, complained that she was not keeping the ferry according 
to law. By 1756 traffic across Hampton River had become so heavy that 

* So-called because its best distance was a quarter mile; it was the ancestor to the cow horse 
of the western plains. 


John Proby resigned as ferrykeeper because business was too good; he told 
the county court that he could not find boats enough for his passengers. 
Eventually, in 1765, the justices set up a free ferry, allowing everyone to 
cross the river without charge.' 

As early as 1705 the General Assembly attempted to make it easier to get 
to Hampton by establishing ferries across Hampton Roads and over the bay 
to the Eastern Shore. The fare to Seawell's Point was three shillings for a 
man and six shillings for a man and horse, while the fare to "the port of 
Northampton" was set at fifteen shillings for a man and double that for a 
man and horse.* Forty years later and again in 1748, the General Assembly 
authorized a ferry to operate "From York, Hampton, and Norfolk towns to 
the land of Littleton Eyre, on Hungar's River in Northampton county, for 
a man or horse twenty shillings, for man & horse fifteen shillings each."' 
This time the ferry was so successful that unlicensed ferrymen entered the 
business, and the General Assembly had to protect the ferrykeeper by au- 
thorizing him to collect £5 from anyone accepting a fee for carrying pas- 
sengers over the bay to Northampton County.'" When individualistic boatmen 
evaded this ban by putting their passengers ashore farther up the bay in 
Accomack County, the ferrykeeper's monopoly was extended to cover that 
county as well." 

All of these developments reflected the growing importance of Hampton 
as a commercial center, and the town was gradually acquiring a more urban 
appearance, befitting its new position. In 1729 more streets were ordered 
laid off to provide for new houses, and three years later the court ordered all 
wooden chimneys pulled down as a menace to the public safety, to be re- 
placed by safer brick stacks.'- Meanwhile Hampton had in 1730 received 
from the General Assembly what amounted to its official recognition as a 
town, an act requiring hogs to be kept penned in town.'* The justices waited 
another seven years before they actually deprived the hogs of their freedom 
to roam the Hampton streets. In March, 1736/37, the county court ordered 
that "the constable do kill all the hoggs that shall come within the limits of 
the town from the last of this month."'* 

The weight of Hampton's increasing population inevitably pulled the 
county's public buildings to it, although not without opposition from the 
people on Back River, who found Hampton inconveniently remote. When 
the justices in 1715 decided to move the courthouse to Hampton, they took 
the precaution of obtaining the governor's approval to forestall any possible 
criticism. Governor Alexander Spotswood gave his written consent, saying; 

M"' John Halloway Haveing this Day applyed to me in Behalfe of the 
Justices of Elizabeth City County for Leave to build their New Court House 
at Hampton, I Doe approve of the Removall and shall accordingly order the 


Sheriff to attend the court there so soon as the House shall be fitt for the 
Reception of the Justices.'^ 

The construction of the courthouse was begun that same year on land 
donated by Captain William Bosel.* The contract was let to Samuel Sweny, 
owner of the long-winded horse, for £137, while Simon HoUier built a new 
prison.^'' Hollier's jail did not last very long, and in 1726 Charles Avera was 
paid 8,900 pounds of tobacco for building a new one. This likewise proved 
unsatisfactory, for each new sheriff complained about the "insufficiency of the 
prison." Finally, in 1744 Merritt Sweny, evidently the son of the horse-racing 
Samuel, was given the contract to build a new jail for £130 and the old 
prison. This was located on a 9^/^ acre tract on the edge of the churchyard, 
extending down the south side of Queen Street to the east of North Street. 
The new structure was built of brick, with the walls "timbered all around 
at the distance of seven inches and lined with pine and oak plank." It was 
thirty by eighteen feet in size and divided into three rooms. In spite of these 
impressive specifications, the new jail was not a success; in 1747 the new 
sheriff, James Wallace, was complaining about the insufficiency of the 

In addition to the jail, Elizabeth City had a complete set of the other 
devices necessary for punishing criminals in the eighteenth century. It had a 
gallows which stood at the crossroads as a constant reminder to potential 
wrongdoers. At the jail were a whipping post, a pillory, a set of stocks, and 
a ducking stool. In spite of the fact that the records do not show that anybody 
was ever ducked in the stool, it rotted as rapidly as did the prison. One stool 
was built in 1717, another ten years later, and in 1757 the court ordered 
a stool with wheels so that it could be rolled down to the water's edge 
whenever it was needed.'* 

One woman who escaped ducking was the widow Judith Bayley, whose 
late husband John had once been county sheriff. She embarrassed his former 
friends on the county bench by twice giving birth to children without having 
gone to the trouble of marrying again. On both occasions the justices had 
the widow brought up before them, but each time came to the conclusion 
that, since she could afford to support the unexpected child and it would 
thus not become a public burden, the whole incident was strictly the Widow 
Bayley's private affair." 

Meanwhile, the courthouse built in 1715 had proved more durable than 
the several prisons and their penal equipment. After many years, of course, 
it did stand in need of repairs, and in 1750 the sheriff was directed to attend 
to the "plaistering." Several years later William Randolph built steps, pre- 

* Or Boswell.' It is a strange coincidence that Capt. William Boswell was living next to the 
Court House in Norfolk Town in 1721 (see Chapter XIII). 


sumably to replace the old ones, and Captain Seiden dug a drainage ditch 
to keep water out of the building and planted a tree to shade the entrance. 
The dignity of the justices was also improved by the insertion of a little 
upholstery between them and their hard wooden bench. The sheriff was 
instructed to find "one dozen of cloth quoshings for the justices and a cloth 
for the judge of this court." The "quoshings," at least were found, for John 
Almond was paid £1 for the wool to stuff them.-" 

Another important building was the public warehouse, where tobacco was 
inspected and stored until it was shipped. When the first permanent inspec- 
tion law was passed in 1730, the Hampton warehouse was built on Mr. Miles' 
lot conveniently near the water — too near, in fact, as it turned out, for, when 
the tides were unusually high, water got into the warehouse. In the hur- 
ricane of 1749 the storm washed away the entire building, along with the 
tobacco stored in it. While the inspectors temporarily took up their quarters 
in a building rented from Alexander Kennedy, the justices ordered the 
sheriff to dispose of the lot on which the demolished warehouse had stood. 
Another site was purchased from Wilson Curie for £25, and Henry Allen 
received £71, 15 shillings for building a new warehouse, which he turned 
over to the county in 1753."^ About the same time a new public wharf was 
built by John Bushell, as the old one apparently had been damaged by the 

In addition to the public warehouses, there were several similar structures, 
privately owned, where merchants stored their goods. Ships headed up the 
James dropped off cargo destined for the bay at Hampton, and vessels going 
up the bay likewise unloaded there shipments intended for the James River 
plantations. This meant speedier delivery, as the first ship up the James might 
bring the goods a month or more before the boat which had brought them 
from England arrived there. It sometimes resulted in dissatisfaction, as in the 
case of a barrel of long-awaited purchases which arrived at Westover in the 
summer of 1741. When William Byrd unpacked the shipment and discovered 
everything inside broken, he sat down and wrote an angry letter to the 
English merchant who had shipped the goods. The damage he attributed 
"partly to your masters tumbling them ashore at Hampton, & tossing them 
into a warehouse, &. then they were rolled to the water-side again & put 
aboard another ship, which called there by chance, or else we might have been 
several Months with-out them."-- 

In spite of these occasional accidents, trade at Hampton continued brisk. 
King Street had a cosmopolitan air with its sailors from ships out of many 
ports — other colonial towns, like Norfolk, Boston, New York, and Philadel- 
phia; the usual British ports, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, and London; the 
British island colonies, Bermuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, and St. Kitts; 
and the Madeiras. In the middle of the century the total tonnage of vessels 


arriving in the port of Hampton was only a little less than that in New York. 
Although 279 ships called in New York in 1754, compared to 169 in Hamp- 
ton in 1752, the Hampton tonnage was 10,557 compared with New York's 

It should be remembered, of course, that the port of Hampton was not the 
same as the town of Hampton. Since 1680 a new commercial center had been 
developing on the north bank of the Elizabeth River. The town of Norfolk 
remained subsidiary to the port of Hampton, although by 1738 it had grown 
large enough to petition the council for the appointment of a deputy col- 
lector of customs to reside in the town and save the Norfolk people from 
the burden of making frequent trips across Hampton Roads for the necessary 
papers.-'' Norfolk soon had the largest share of the business in the lower 
bay but it had not yet become an independent port. 

In the early years of Hampton's existence observers had commented that, 
while it had many taverns, it had no church. This was only technically true, 
for the third Elizabeth City parish church, built in 1667, stood just beyond the 
northern limits of the town. Nevertheless, the pull of Hampton's urban 
gravitation made it inevitable that the church must sooner or later follow the 
courthouse to town. The time for the migration came in the 1720's when the 
Pembroke church building began to show signs of decay, perhaps because of 
deliberate neglect by Hampton-minded vestrymen. In 1724 the grand jury pre- 
sented "the Church Wardens of this Parish and County for not keeping the 
Churchyard in good repair."-" When the vestry then proposed to build a new 
church in Hampton, the opposition to the move was so strong in the Back 
River section that the people there appealed to the General Assembly, and 
the burgesses ordered the vestry to take no action until the next session of the 
assembly. The next session, however, was postponed so often, that the vestry, 
or at least its Hampton members, asked the council to meet the emergency 
created by the hazardous condition of the church. The council on October 27, 
1727, overruled the burgesses, declaring: 

Whereas Sundry Inhabitants and the Majority of the Vestry of Elizabeth 
City Parish have represented to the Governour that the Church of the said 
Parish is so ruinous that it is dangerous for them to Repair thither for the 
Performing Divine Service and that great Differences have arisen between the 
Inhabitants of the said Parish and upon the occasion of the said Differences 
an Order was made by the last House of Burgesses that the present vestry 
should not proceed to the building of a New Church before the next Session 
of Assembly, which is complained of as a great grievance to the Petitioners 
and other Inhabitants who have petitioned the Governour for relief therein; 
the Governour this day in Council took the Matter of the said Petition into 
consideration and upon hearing of all Parties by their Council, It is the Opin- 
ion of the Board that the New Church ought to be built in the Town of 



Hampton as the most convenient place in the said Parish and that the Vestry 
be at liberty to proceed to the building of the same accordingly.-* 

The following January the Elizabeth City County court, acting upon this 
opinion, ordered that "Mr. Jacob Walker and Mr. John Lowry are appointed 
to Lay of and Vallue an Acre and half of Ground at the upper end of Queens 
Street, joyning upon Mr. Boswell's* Lott for the Building the Church there- 



on. ... It is agreed by the Minister, Churchwardens and Court to furnish Mr. 
Henry Gary with wood, at the rate of Six Pence per load, to burn bricks for 
the Church from the School land.""^ Henry Cary's bricks were well-laid; in 
spite of the vicissitudes of three wars and years of neglect the walls he put up 
in 1728 are still standing. 

The new church, which another century was to name St. John's, differed 
from its framed predecessors not merely in being constructed of more perma- 
nent brick but also in its plan. The simple rectangular shape of the earlier 
structures gave way to the new style of eighteenth century Virginia, which 
was actually a return to the traditional English cruciform. The church was 
built in classical proportions, with the three short arms of the cross exactly 
the same length, fifteen feet two inches, according to the careful measure- 

* Was this the same individual who donated the Court House lot? (V. supra) 


merits of George Carrington Mason, while the width of the transept and of 
the nave of the church are precisely twice this distance, or thirty feet four 
inches. Only the length of the nave fails to meet this exactitude, being eight 
inches short of twice the length of the arms of the cross.-* 

The substantial walls were two feet thick, laid in Flemish bond with 
glazed blue headers. The secondary doorways in either end of the transept 
were decorated with pilasters surmounted by a gable-shaped classical pedi- 
ment, while the main entrance in the west end was larger and more elaborate, 
topped by an arched pediment. The windows were balanced formally in keep- 
ing with the proportions of the church, two on either side of the nave, one 
on each side of the arms of the cross, two in the east end behind the altar, 
and round windows over each of the doorways. The one exception to this 
formal arrangement was a small window on the north side, designed to throw 
light on the pulpit so that the minister could see to read his sermon. Inside 
there was a gallery in the west end for the slaves who were brought to church 
by their masters.-^ 

The ministers who served Elizabeth City parish during these years were 
usually of the Scottish clergy, like Virginia's Commissary James Blair. When 
the Church of Scotland was permitted to return to Presbyterianism, the Scotch 
ministers who persisted in the Anglican faith found little employment at home 
and were therefore more willing to come to America than were their English 
brethren. The Elizabeth City minister at the beginning of the eighteenth cen- 
tury was one of this group, a man named James Wallace, who came from ErroU 
in Perthshire, Scotland. He took the Elizabeth City charge in 1691, at the age 
of twenty-four; according to Heff el finger, he was also a doctor of medicine 
as well as an ordained clergyman, but this seems doubtful.^" In 1695 he mar- 
ried Mrs. Ann Wythe, widow of Thomas Wythe, and thus became stepfather 
to Thomas, Jr., the future father of George Wythe.^^ When Commissary 
Blair began his historic quarrel with Governor Francis Nicholson, Wallace 
sided with his fellow Scot and found himself involved in a quarrel of his own 
with the Elizabeth City justices, who supported the governor. The existing 
records leave the nature of the dispute somewhat clouded, but a suit was 
brought against him in the county court, and he departed for a prolonged 
stay in England to win the support of the Bishop of London, whose diocese 
included Virginia. 

Returning with the bishop's blessing, he proceeded to harass the discom- 
fited justices. When they called a grand jury to indict him in spite of the re- 
straining order issued by the bishop, he warned the jurors that they were in 
danger of being punished for violating the law and alarmed the justices, who 
feared that his influence might prevent them from obtaining a grand jury. At 
the next term of court, when he was brought to trial, he demanded the right 
to cross-examine the witnesses, a request which the justices indignantly re- 


fused. The clergyman further horrified the justices by daring to speak boldly 
to Governor Nicholson himself, who was present in court. When the court 
met again, Wallace appeared to challenge its authority once more. Changing 
their tactics, the justices told him that his case had been dropped and of- 
fered to let him cross-examine any witnesses, whereupon he replied that he 
would take his own time and left the court. 

At this point the infuriated magistrates sat down and vented their feelings 
in a long letter to Governor Nicholson, reciting all their grievances and ask- 
ing him to appeal to the bishop. After listing everything he had done to injure 
the dignity of the court, they added the charge that he was mixing in local 

... ye s" Wallace Much Concerns himself in Severall affairs of the Parrish 
which Doth in no way belong to his Ministerial Function & p'ticularly on our 
meeting together in choosing of ye Late Burgess, when Mr. Wallace was very 
zealous & busy in preferring his Relation & went often Backwards & forwards 
among ye people to Engage them to vote for his s'd Kinsman & after election 
was over went too & fro thanking y™ for y' Service & Kindness, & at Sundry 
times giving Threatning words to some of us telling us he should be parson 
when wee were not Justices with Many Reflections ag**' our Credits and Repu- 
tation, endeavoring as wee apprehend to Incense ye People ag*'' us, w'' if not 
Timely prevented may be of very ill & fatall Consequence to ye County, &c., 
& Therefore wee humbly pray yo"' ExcTy to Send us Some Directions to Curb 
y' unruly Priest who Scoffs at Justice. . .^- 

The rights and wrongs of this quarrel are difficult to assess, since our 
only account of these events is the letter written by the justices. The justices, 
appointed though they were by Nicholson, were respected citizens of Elizabeth 
City County; four of the nine who signed the letter — Edward Myhill, William 
Wilson, Bertrand Servant, and Augustine Moore — had been on the bench as 
far back as 1680, while William Lowry was on the court in 1699. On the 
other hand, the letter itself reveals that the minister had a great deal of popu- 
lar support on his side. In any case, the issue was already decided; Commis- 
sary Blair was on his way back from London with an order for Nicholson's 
removal. Wallace continued in his Elizabeth City post until he died in 1712 
and was buried at his home on Back River, named "Erroll" after his Scottish 

Wallace's successor was another Scotchman, the Reverend Andrew Thomp- 
son, who served the parish seven years before he died in 1719 at the age of 
forty-six and was buried in the churchyard at Pembroke, where his gravestone 
can still be seen.^* He seems to have tried to stimulate church attendance 
through legal process, for the most vigorous prosecution of the law requiring 
everyone to go to church took place during his time. In August, 1715, fourteen 
persons were presented to the court by the churchwardens for not attending 


service, and in February, 1718/19, eighteen more were brought up before the 
justices for the same offense.*^ 

Not everyone in Elizabeth City County was required to attend the Ang- 
lican service, however, as Virginia's toleration act of 1699 permitted dissenters 
to worship in their own way. The most prominent dissenter in Hampton was 
George Walker, one of the James River pilots. He was a member of the 
Society of Friends, or Quakers, who had been expelled from Virginia not so 
many years before on account of their radical religious views, and his wife 
Anne was the daughter of George Keith, who had been a prominent Quaker. 
Unfortunately for the happiness of the Walker family, George Keith returned 
to the Church of England and became an energetic Anglican missionary. 
When Keith with a fellow Anglican named Talbot came to Hampton in 1704 
to carry on his missionary activity, he stayed with his daughter and made sure 
that she followed the faith of her father rather than her husband's. He re- 
ported in his journal: 

Mr. Talbot preached at Kirketan;* we stayed there about ten days at my 
daughter's house at Kirketan, by James River; she is fully come off from the 
Quakers, and is a zealous member of the Church of England, and brings up 
her children, so many of them as are capable through age, in the Christian 
religion, praised be God for it.*^ 

What the pacifistic Quaker son-in-law thought about this parental intru- 
sion on his domestic bliss is not recorded, but a year later he got his revenge 
on his wife by entertaining a Quaker missionary, named Thomas Story, from 
Philadelphia. Story noted in his journal for April, 1705: 

On the 29th we went to Kicquotan, where we had a meeting at our 
friend, George Walker's house, to which came Col. Brown, one of the provin- 
cial council and several commanders of ships and others of note, who were 
generally satisfied with the meeting. George Walker's wife is one of George 
Keith's daughters and follows him in his apostacy and enmity.^'' 

The family quarrel reached all the way to Williamsburg in 1708 after 
George Walker put his foot down and refused to allow Anne to take the 
children to the parish church. Anne appealed to the council that her husband 
had "violently restrained her and her children from going to church to attend 
the worship of God according to the established religion." Embarrassed by 
being involved in these marital difficulties, the council handed down a decision 
worthy of Solomon, ordering: 

That she, the said Anne, ought to enjoy the free exercise of her religion, 
and that her husband ought not to restrain her from going to church; and as 

* It is interesting that this doughty Scot saw the word "Kirk" in the savage name of Kecough- 
tan, and so distorted it, Ed. Note. 


to that part of the petition relating to the children, it not appearing of what 
age these children are, nor how far they are capable of choosing a religion 
for themselves, this board do not think proper to determine anything in that 
matter at this time.^* 

The issue which the council evaded was settled by time itself. The dispute 
over the children's religion died out as the children grew up and got married 
— daughter Margaret married the younger Thomas Wythe, a member of the 
House of Burgesses, and in 1726 they had a son they named George. Two 
years later another visiting Quaker named Samuel Bownas reported a family 

George Walker was very kind, invited us to stay at his house which we 
did four nights and had a meeting or two in his house, his wife being more 
loving than I expected. She was George Keith's daughter, and in her younger 
days showed great dissatisfaction with Friends, but after her father's death 
the edge of that bitterness abated, and her husband was very loving and 
hearty to Friends, frequently having meetings at his house.** 

Some idea of the extent of dissent, or at least of non-church attendance, 
in Elizabeth City County is revealed in a report made to the Bishop of London 
by the Reverend James Falconer,* who served the parish from 1720 to 1727. 
He stated that service was held every Sunday and attended by most of his 
parishioners and that he had about one hundred communicants. Since he said 
at the same time that he had 350 families in his charge, he apparently re- 
garded only about fifty of these, assuming two communicants to a family, as 
members of his parish.^" In other words, six families out of seven were, like 
George Walker, no longer attending the parish church. 

Falconer was succeeded by the Reverend Thomas Peader, who arrived in 
1727 while the debate over the proposed new church was going on and left 
four years later after the new building on Queen Street had been completed. 
On his departure the vestry chose as the new rector a local schoolmaster, Wil- 
liam Fife. Falconer in 1724 had mentioned that he kept "a good private 
school," where Latin and Greek were taught in addition to the three R's, 
which constituted the curriculum of the free schools.*' The Reverend Mr. Fyfe 
served the parish an uneventful twenty-five years until his death in 1755. 

The choice of his successor, however, precipitated a controversy which 
badly split the vestry. A young lawyer from the county, named William 
Selden, had decided to become a minister, and under the rules of the church 
he was required to have a parish before he could be ordained by the bishop 
in England. Some of the members of the vestry supported his application for 
the Elizabeth City vacancy, but Governor Robert Dinwiddie, insisting on his 
right to induct the new minister, nominated the Reverend Thomas Warring- 

* Formerly minister in Elizabeth River Parish, Norfolk. (See Chapter XIII.) 
Va. 10 


ton, who was then serving Hampton parish in York County. The minutes of 
the vestry for January 12, 1756, report this dispute: 

The late Rev'd Mr. Fyfe, minister of this parish being dead, the vestry 
proceeded to the choice of another minister, and (having first received the 
governor's and commisary's letters) and thereupon mature deliberations being 
there had, proceeded to the choice of a minister for this parish to fill up the 
said vacancy, and the Rev'd. Mr. Selden, and the Rev'd. Mr. Warrington, 
standing candidates, the question being put, the vestry are divided in their 
opinions. *- 

The vestry remained "divided in their opinions" for ten more months until 
they finally surrendered to the governor in October and agreed to accept the 
Reverend Mr. Warrington. He served for fourteen years until he died on 
October 28, 1770, and then at last Selden had his chance. Without inter- 
ference from the governor, the vestry elected him to the post, and he sailed 
for England to be ordained. Returning in May, 1771, he became the last 
rector of the parish before the Revolution. ''^ 

Meanwhile, the parish church had been undergoing repairs and improve- 
ments. The preservation of the vestry book beginning in 1751 provides us with 
some details of these changes. By that time the new church was already old 
enough to require painting on the outside and whitewashing within and to 
need the framing of the floor replaced. A new gate with cedar posts was 
ordered for the fence around the churchyard, which was then probably made 
of wood. A brick wall to replace the old fence was begun by 1759, but the con- 
tractors made such little progress that the vestry ordered the churchwardens 
to bring suit if the wall were not finished by September 15. In spite of this 
threat of legal action the wall was not actually completed until more than two 
years later, and even then the vestry complained that it was "insufiicient." The 
parking problem of the day was solved by the erection of "horse-racks" in- 
side the churchyard, and a "cover" was built over one of them to protect the 
horses from the hot summer sun."** 

The most important change made in the church was the addition of a 
bell-tower at the west end of the church. This was begun as the result of a 
bequest from Alexander Kennedy, the merchant who had rented his building 
to the tobacco inspectors after the public warehouse was destroyed by the hur- 
ricane of 1749. He left £40 to the parish to buy a church bell on condition 
that the parish erect a belfry for it within one year after his death. On Feb- 
ruary 6, 1761, the vestry ordered the construction of a brick tower about 
eighteen feet square, two and a half bricks thick to the ceiling of the church 
and two bricks the rest of the way. The tower closed up the two windows in 
the gallery and required the removal of the trim of the west doorway, which 
now became an interior door opening on the vestibule created by the tower. 


On top of the tower a wooden belfry was erected. The vestry specified that 
it be fourteen feet square, built of the best white oak timber, and painted 
white, with a lead-colored roof. Originally it was left open to the elements, 
but in 1766 it was ordered "to be closed up with Cyphered Plank and that 
Window Shutters be made and put to the Steeple Windows." Although 
the structure was finished in 1762, it took four more years to get the money 
from the executor of Kennedy's estate, and the bell was not hung until No- 
vember 26, 1766.*^ 

Two years later the vestry made the last improvement before the Revolu- 
tion when it ordered the wardens to "send home for ornaments for the 
Church." These consisted of a cloth for the pulpit, another for the communion 
table, and kneeling cushions, all to be of crimson velvet with a silk fringe. 
A levy of 14,000 pounds of tobacco was laid in order to pay for them, and 
they were to be insured for £30. One of the vestrymen. Colonel Wilson Miles 
Gary, agreed to assume all the freight charges.^* 

While the parish church with its new white steeple and crimson cushions 
was prospering, the free schools were suffering from their location on Back 
River, which had now become a remote end of the county. The Syms school 
especially, being on the north side of the river, seemed exceedingly remote 
from Hampton. At one time indeed the trustees temporarily surrendered their 
authority over it, as is indicated in this entry for November 17, 1725: 

Upon the motion of William Tucker setting forth he is willing to take 
the school land and provide a schoolemaster it is ordered that the sd Tucker 
have possession of the sd land with this proviso and condition that he con- 
stantly keep and provide a schoolmaster to teach the said children in the said 

How long this agreement to let the tenant appoint the schoolmaster 
endured is uncertain. One may surmise that William Tucker proposed to hire 
a tutor for his own children and intended to have his tutor teach the other 
children of the neighborhood free in return for the use of the school land. 
The arrangement must have seemed a very practical one to the trustees at 
the moment, but one may also surmise that the parents in the neighborhood 
were soon complaining to the trustees about the inadequacies of Tucker's tutor 
and demanding that the trustees resume direct control of the school. 

'While the Syms land was generally leased as a single unit, the larger 
Eaton tract was divided among several tenants and created more problems for 
the trustees. It still contained a great deal of timber, which was becoming in- 
creasingly valuable with the disappearance of the local forests, and the 
trustees became one of the first agencies in America to tackle the question 
of conservation of natural resources. Tenants sometimes squeezed a little 
extra income out of their lease by cutting down more trees than the trustees 


considered justified. In 1720, for example, Henry Irvin, "gent.," brought 
tenant John Curie into court on charges that he was wasting the timbers on 
his holding. The trustees themselves, as has been noted, sold off enough 
wood to Henry Gary to burn the bricks for the new church in 1728, using the 
amount accumulated at six pence per load to pay the quitrents. At the same 
time they brought suit against the Quaker pilot, George Walker, who "ac- 
knowledged in Court that he had cut down timber within the bounds of the 
survey upon the schoole lands."** 

These issues inevitably raised the question of the legal status of the 
trustees themselves, who were acting as a corporation with no other authoriza- 
tion than the deed of gift made by Thomas Eaton. Having already obtained 
legislative approval to act in behalf of the Syms school as far back as 1643, 
they now went again to the General Assembly and in May of 1730 obtained 
the necessary law enabling "the Justices of the Peace of the County of Eliza- 
beth City, and the Ministers and Churchwardens of the Parish of Elizabeth 
City, in the said County, for the time being, to take, and hold, certain Lands, 
given by Thomas Eaton, to charitable uses; and to lett leases thereof."''* 

Although this act put both schools on the same legal footing with the 
same trustees, the governing board some years later decided to acquire formal 
status as a corporation. The Syms Free School was incorporated by Act of 
Assembly in November, 1753, and in February, 1759, the trustees returned 
to obtain similar recognition for Eaton's Charity School*. The Acts in- 
corporating the two schools, like their board of trustees, were identical, with 
only minor variations. They made no revolutionary changes, merely detailing 
what were already long-existing practices: the "Trustees and Governors" 
were authorized to 

nominate and appoint . . . such person as they shall approve of, to be master 
of the said free school; which said master, before he be received or admitted 
to keep school, shall undergo an examination before the minister of the said 
parish, for the time being, and produce a certificate of his capacity and also 
a license from the governor or commander in chief of this dominion, for the 
time being, agreeable to his majesty's instructions. And the said trustees and 
Governors, and their successors . . . shall . . . have full power and authority 
to visit the said free school, and to order, reform, and redress all disorders and 
abuses in and touching the government and disposing of the same, and to 
remove the said master, as to them, or the greater part of them shall seem 
just, fit, and convenient.'"' 

* It is to be noted the Acts of 1753 and 1759 were acts of incorporation but in no sense 
charters; each established "a body politic and corporate . . . with perpetual succession." There 
were only three chartered corporations in Colonial Virginia: the College of William and Mary, the 
City of Williamsburgh and the Borough of Norfolk, as will more fully appear in Chapters XII 
and XIII. 


The most important difference between the two Acts was the distinction 
implicit in the names adopted for each of the schools. The Syms school re- 
mained free to all comers, presumably including persons from Poquosin parish, 
across the line in York county, since it was located in a thinly populated re- 
gion. The Eaton school, much closer to Hampton, naturally attracted the larger 
number of the county scholars and thus seems to have been overcrowded. 
Moreover, there is some evidence that the Eaton endowment had been dis- 
sipated, since the available figures indicate that the much larger Eaton tract 
was producing less income than was the Syms land. At any rate, the trustees 
decided to restrict the number of free students there as the law incorporating 
"Eaton's Charity School" stipulated that only poor children should be admitted 
without charge, declaring: 

Whereas the said foundation hath been abused, by admitting a great num- 
ber of children into the said school whose parents are well able to pay for 
their education; for remedy whereof. Be it enacted . . . that no person shall 
enjoy the benefit of the said charity-school without consent of the master . . . 
except such poor children as the said trustees . . . shall from time to time 
declare to be proper objects of the pious founder's charity.''' 

The organization of the two corporations probably led to a more formal 
regulation of the schools than had previously prevailed. In spite of the fact that 
the legal trustees were the county justices in association with the minister and 
the two churchwardens, the property seems to have been administered at times 
by the parish vestry; the court order of 1720 concerning the lease made to John 
Curie states that the land was granted to him by order of the vestry. Since 
school and church were so closely associated in that day, it was natural, if 
extra-legal, for the vestry to assume control of the schools' affairs. This would 
account for the fact that there are virtually no surviving records of the school 
business; they were presumably kept in the now vanished parish vestry books 
of the period before 1751. By the time the surviving vestry records begin, the 
trustees were probably keeping separate books for the two schools, books which 
disappeared in the general confusion at the end of the Revolution. 

In view of this situation, it is not surprising that there are only three 
known references to the operation of the schools during the first seventy-five 
years of the eighteenth century. The Falconer report of 1724 informed the 
bishop of London that "there are two Publick Schooles in the Parish, endowed 
though very meanly, whereof John Mason and Abraham Parish are teach- 
ers."'^- In 1745 the schoolmaster at the Syms school, a man named John 
Hunter, got his name into the county records by becoming involved in a 
legal dispute. The third mention is an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette 
for March 12, 1752: 


Notice is hereby given, That the Symes's Free School, in Ehzabeth-City 
County, will be vacant on the 25th of March Inst. A Tutor of a Good Char- 
acter, and properly qualified, may meet with Good Encouragement, by apply- 
ing to the Trustees of the said School. N. B. The Land Rent of the said 
School is 31 1 per ann. besides Perquisites.-'* 

A little more is known about the leases, since several of them were re- 
corded by the county court. In 1737 the current trustees leased 193 acres of 
the Eaton land to Robert Armistead, not merely for his own natural life, as 
was the aistomary term, but for as long as any of his three sons, named in the 
lease, should live; thirty-seven years later Robert Armistead left the lease to 
William, one of the three sons listed. Armistead was to build two tobacco 
houses, thirty feet by twenty-six feet, and two dwelling houses, each twenty- 
six by sixteen feet, and to plant an orchard of two hundred winter apple trees. 
His annual rent was set at six pounds, indicating that the total income from 
the entire five hundred acres of the Eaton land must have been less than 
eighteen pounds.''"' 

An effort to overcome the natural tendency of the tenants to let the build- 
ings deteriorate as the end of their lease approached is seen in the more 
elaborate specifications incorporated in an agreement for the rental of another 
part of the Eaton lands, perhaps the tract leased to Merritt Sweny in 1737. 
The required building was to be "A dwelling twenty-eight feet long by six- 
teen feet wide, the pitch nine feet, covered with good heart-pine or cypress 
shingles to be tarred once in every two or three years, having a brick chimney, 
and two rooms above and two below lathed and plastered, and floors, doors 
and windows of good plank. And to set out an orchard of a hundred Grixon 
apple trees at usual spaces which is to be kept well fenced and secure against 
all damage."^^ 

The most interesting of these agreements is a lease of the Syms lands on 
July 15, 1760, to George Wythe. The indenture is drawn in such legal 
language that it may well have been written by the famous lawyer himself. 
Wythe, then thirty-four, was already in possession of the tract by some earlier 
agreement, and he now was granted life tenure of "all houses, orchards, ways 
and waters, watercourses, woods, trees, marshes, low grounds, profits and com- 
modities to the said parcel or tract of land appertaining together with eleven 
head of black cattle belonging to the said lands." The one reservation was 
the acre lot at the southwest corner, where the schoolhouse stood, which 
remained under the jurisdiction of the trustees and governors. 

In return he was to pay thirty-one pounds and five shillings in the current 
money of Virginia on the fifth of each February in addition to the annual 
quitrents. He was also to deliver to the schoolmaster "four good milch cows 
in the month of April in every year during the said term; to be returned to 


their calves in good order the November following, unless the said Master 
should chuse to keep them during the winter in which case he may retain 
them instead of others and return them in November afterwards." Wythe 
was required to plant the customary apple orchard of one hundred trees, to 
keep the houses to be built on the land in good repair, and to leave eleven 
black cattle and three thousand fence "rales" on the property."" 

The presence of the free schools encouraged a high standard of education 
in Elizabeth City County. Although the day of compulsory education was 
still far in the future, the duty of seeing that the child learned to read was 
generally imposed on anyone to whom it was bound out, and the same duty 
was likewise required of parents. In the years from 1756 to 1762 four fathers 
were summoned to court "to show cause why they have neglected the educa- 
tion of their children." One of these, William Smelt, was evidently a black- 
sheep descendant of the earlier tavernkeeper and county justice with the same 
name; he was likewise brought up for failure to attend divine service.^^ 

Free education on the south side of Back River was limited, as we have 
seen, to those who could not aiford to pay tuition. Others either paid their 
fees to the Eaton schoolmaster or hired a private tutor. Those who wanted 
to learn Latin and Greek, essential in those days for a higher education, had 
to attend a private school, since only the elementary subjects were taught 
at the free schools. William Fife, who was operating such a private school 
in 1724, probably continued to take pupils during his long ministry. His 
successor, Thomas Warrington, certainly did so, for the records reveal that 
the guardian of young John Tabb paid the minister £6 a year for schooling 
and books from 1763 onwards.^* 

Young men who had exhausted the educational offerings in Hampton 
could and did go up to Williamsburg to continue their studies at the College 
of William and Mary. One of them, Wilson Cary, went all the way to Eng- 
land in 1721 to attend Trinity College of Cambridge University. Still another, 
James McClurg, went to Edinburgh in 1770 to study at the famous medical 
school there."^ He was Surgeon, Continental Line, member of the Cincinnati, 
and first professor of Anatomy and Medicine at William and Mary College. 
His father, Dr. Walter McClurg, had been a surgeon in the British navy and 
had been sent to Hampton to establish the first hospital in America for 
inoculation against smallpox.''" 

Although business and social life left little time for recreational reading, 
the gentlemen in Elizabeth City County owned books, as the inventories of 
their estates reveal. In some cases it was only one, as in the instance of 
Anthony Tucker who in 1759 left twenty-eight Negroes, two mulattoes, and 
one large Bible, but a good Christian in those days needed no other book. 
Westwood Armistead, who died the following year, was less religious or more 
practical; his estate included twenty-four Negroes, seventy- five gallons of 


brandy, and one dictionary. Broader cultural interests were indicated by the 
library of William Parsons, who possessed in addition to fourteen slaves, a 
set of the Spectator, a History of Marlboro, and Bayley's dictionary, not to 
mention various law books, prayer books, and Bibles. John Tabb owned a 
two-volume set of Josephus, a seven-volume history of England, law books, 
sermons, and a bundle of Latin books. Tabb also possessed a set of china 
dishes, a new-fangled luxury in a community accustomed to eating off 
pewter plates.*^ 

The life of the slaves owned by these gentlemen and other residents of 
Elizabeth City County went unrecorded in the pages of history. According to 
the Reverend Mr. Falconer, their owners were careful to instruct the young 
Negro children,"- and in those pre-segregation days it may be assumed that 
they attended the parish church as faithfully as did their masters. The only 
Negroes who got into the records were those who were charged with crimes, 
and these received justice tempered with mercy. Jack, for example, accused 
of raping and robbing a white woman in 1741/42, was acquitted of the rape, 
in spite of the racial feeling that the accusation must have aroused, although 
he was sentenced to thirty-nine lashes for beating and robbing her. Those 
who did overstep the invisible bounds set between the two races were, of 
course, properly punished; Sheppy, who had spoken indecently to Dr. Brodie's 
daughter, was put in the pillory during the whole sitting of the court and 
then given the customary thirty-nine lashes. ®® 

Sometimes the necessity for maintaining strict discipline over the un- 
tutored slaves required a curious compromise with justice. Gomery, who 
belonged to the promiscuous Judith Bayley, was found not guilty of the 
felony with which he was charged. "But," the court decided, "there ap- 
pearing great reason to believe that he was guilty, though the evidence did 
not prove the fact. It is Orde'd that the sheriff do cut off his right ear at the 
pillory and that afterwards he do whip the said Negro through the town of 
Hampton." This was, to be sure, a merciful sentence, since the usual punish- 
ment for a felony by a slave was death. The slave Ned, however, who was 
convicted of stealing, was allowed to plead benefit of clergy under English 
law and escaped with thirty-nine lashes at the whipping post. In accordance 
with the usual custom he was also branded in the hand as a mark that he 
had received benefit of clergy, which could be granted only once. One Negro 
received the death sentence for a rather surprising felony, practicing medicine. 
This was the result of a colonial law which forbade slaves to administer 
drugs for fear that the drugs might be deliberately intended to poison their 

The most common crime among the Negroes, however, was theft, and 
this in at least one case was punished by death. Will, slave of Anthony 
Tucker, who also owned the large Bible, was convicted of stealing two gal- 


Ions of rum and six pounds of sugar from John Bordland's warehouse and 
was sentenced to be hanged at the crossroads in 1728. Another slave involved 
in the crime was found to be only an accessory, and the sheriff was ordered to 
whip him through King and Queen Streets with thirty-nine lashes."^ 

The Bordlands seem to have been troubled by theft, for a few years later 
Mrs. Bordland was advertising in the Virginia Gazette: 

Ran aivay from Mrs. Bordland, oj Hampton, a Servant Man, named 
William Brown, alias Henry Danelly, an Irish Man. of a middle Stature, and 
a fair Complexion; mark'd with the Letter W . on one of his Hands. He had 
with him a White Fustian Coat, a German Serge Coat, a Black Wastcoat. and 
Five Pair of Different Sorts of Breeches. He stole, and took with him, a Gold 
Locket, and a Sillier Stock-Buckle, mark'd I. B. Whoever apprehends and 
brings the said Servant to his Mistress aforesaid shall be well rewarded. ^^ 

While these and other local events were being talked about in the King 
Street taverns, the tide of world events from time to time beat upon the 
coasts of Elizabeth City. World wars were frequent in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, and there were few years when privateers or pirates were not harassing 
the commerce in the bay. Governor Alexander Spotswood, on his arrival in 
1710, proposed to improve the coastal defenses by reviving the old fort at 
Point Comfort. When the English government sent the necessary guns and 
ammunition, he "made shift" to build the fort and mount cannon there in the 
following year. Although the Peace of Utrecht in 1713 brought Queen Anne's 
War to an end, pirates continued to infest the region, and in 1718 Spotswood 
dispatched Lieutenant Henry Maynard to Pamlico Sound to attack the no- 
torious pirate Blackbeard. Maynard returned in triumph, bringing with him as 
a trophy of his victory the pirate captain's head. This was stuck up on a pole 
on the west side of Hampton River, on the point which is still called Black- 
beard's Point.**' 

Spotswood's wooden fort rotted away as rapidly as had its predecessors, 
and by 1730 Governor William Gooch proposed a new fort built of more 
durable material. Nothing was done about this plan, however, until after 
the outbreak of King George's War in 1740.** The following spring Spanish 
privateers arrived to prey upon the tobacco ships, and the merchants of Hamp- 
ton and Norfolk joined in a petition to the governor and council for pro- 
tection. The council met this request by authorizing the fitting out of two 
sloops to patrol the bay,*** and in 1742 Governor Gooch at last carried out 
his project for a brick fort at Point Comfort.™ 

This massive structure, named Fort George in honor of the king, con- 
sisted of two walls, sixteen feet apart, the outer wall twenty-seven inches 
thick, the inner one sixteen inches. Every ten or twelve feet there was a cross- 
wall to brace the structure; the pockets between were probably filled with 


sand for additional strengtli. The fort mounted twenty-two guns under the 
control of George Wallcer, storekeeper and gunner. The name of the Quaker 
pilot seems oddly out of place in such a warlike position, but this seems to 
have been the son, won away from his father's principles by his mother's 
earnest instruction. One other problem was the acquisition of title to the 
land on which the fort stood, for in 1706 sharp-eyed Robert Beverley had 
noticed that Point Comfort was unoccupied ground and had promptly taken 
out a patent for it His claim was settled in 1744 by the payment of £165 
to his son William. ^^ 

The new fort proved less effective than had been hoped; in 1748 a 
French privateer captured a Norfolk schooner within sight of the defenders 
of Point Comfort. Fortunately the war ended the same year, and a little later 
the fort itself came to an end. The hurricane of October, 1749, washed the 
sand from under the brick foundations, and the walls collapsed in ruins. The 
commander. Captain Samuel Barron, assembled all his men on the second 
floor of the wooden barracks to protect them from the fury of the storm; 
according to popular belief, their combined weight held down the wooden 
building and saved it from destruction. Colonel Thomas Lee, then acting 
governor of the colony, came to examine the pile of bricks and sand which had 
once been the fort and reported that all the guns were dismounted and "Honey- 
coomb'd." Governor Robert Dinwiddle in 1755 also investigated the disaster, 
reporting that the collapse was the result of 'Sea and Weather," since no 
pilings had been driven into the sand to protect the foundations. In 1763 
Governor Francis Fauquier observed of what was left of the fort that it "serves 
now only as a signal house to give notice of what Ships enter the Capes. "^^ 
Point Comfort was reduced again to the position it had had in the early days 
of the colony, when a tall cedar tree had served as the lookout post. 

Meanwhile, the effects of war had swept around the Strawberry Banks and 
into the town of Hampton itself. In May, 1746, troops enlisted and organized 
by the colony sailed out of the port on their way to a projected invasion of 
Canada. Nine years later, in February, Major General Edward Braddock landed 
there, and British redcoats gleamed on King Street, while the soldiers he had 
brought with him refreshed themselves after their long ocean voyage before 
proceeding to the Potomac and their impending rendezvous with disaster on the 
banks of the Monongahela. The following November the war brought another 
problem to Hampton, when the British government, suspicious of the loyalty 
of the French living in Nova Scotia, decided to evacuate them. Five ships, 
loaded with 1140 of these exiles, arrived in the bay, and two of the vessels 
were directed to Hampton, which had to face the problem of trying to feed and 
house them. Luckily for Hampton's slender resources, the refugees were eventu- 
ally evacuated to French Louisiana.''^ 

Even before the French and Indian War was over, Elizabeth City was join- 


ing with the rest o£ Virginia in demanding greater independence from the 
king. During the war the General Assembly because of a crop failure had 
authorized the commuting of debts payable in tobacco into cash at the rate 
of twopence a pound. A number of the Virginia clergy, feeling that this law 
discriminated against them, since the market value of the tobacco customarily 
paid them as salary would have been much greater than the cash payments 
they received, appealed to the king and obtained a royal veto of the law. 
Under the usual interpretation of the royal authority, this meant that the act 
had been null and void from the beginning, and the clergy were thus en- 
titled to recover what they had lost by accepting money instead of tobacco. 

A number of the clergymen brought suit against the vestry in the county 
courts to collect the sums due them and thereby made themselves unpopular 
with the local authorities. The most famous of these "Parsons' Causes" was in 
Hanover County, where the court upheld the clergyman under the law but 
was overruled by the jury as the result of Patrick Henry's impassioned plea. 
The defiance of Elizabeth City was more forthright, if less dramatic, and was 
made nine months before Patrick Henry addressed the Hanover County jury. 
'When the Reverend Thomas 'Warrington brought suit in the Hampton court- 
house to collect the money due him, the court impaneled a jury to hear his case. 
The jury on January 5, 1763, tossed the problem back to the bench by rendering 
an ambiguous verdict; it found for the plaintiff if the law was with him, against 
the plaintiff if the law was against him. At the next term of court the justices, 
with George 'Wythe presiding, boldly challenged the royal authority by ruling 
that the law was against the rector.'^ 

Elizabeth City County in the same unspectacular way likewise cooperated 
in opposition to the Stamp Act in 1765. Local planters and merchants sup- 
ported the colonial boycott of British goods, which eventually brought about 
the repeal of the detested measure, but the resistance was without violence 
or open disobedience of the law. Since the county court could not legally meet 
without either complying with or deliberately defying the act, the court ceased 
to sit after the legislation went into effect on November 1, 1765. It did meet 
the following January for the important business of laying the tax levy, but it 
heard no cases until word arrived that the law had been repealed.'^ 

Passive resistance could not indefinitely postpone, however, open conflict 
between imperial authority and local desire for home rule. 'When the news 
of the passing of the Intolerable Acts arrived in 1774, Virginia took the lead 
in calling for a Continental Congress to discuss colonial grievances, and 
the people of Elizabeth City County held an unofficial election to choose 
delegates to a colonial convention, which in turn named representatives to go 
to Philadelphia. Following the program of opposition adopted by the Con- 
tinental Congress, the county court stopped meeting, as it had in 1765. This 
time, however, its place was taken by an informal government, a committee 


of correspondence, which was to be granted by popular consent all the powers 
of the county court. On November 21, 1774, the voters of Elizabeth City 
County chose their first committee of correspondence. Heading the list as 
chairman was the bearer of several old county names, William Roscoe Wilson 
Curie. The other members of the committee included Henry King, Worlich 
Westwood, William Armistead, James Wallace (grandson of the minister), 
Jacob and George Wray, John Cary, John Tabb, Rae Cowper, Joseph and 
Car\' Selden, and Miles King.'*^ 

By the summer of 1775 this unofficial organization had become the real 
government in Elizabeth City although the colony still hesitated to take up out- 
right resistance to the King's representative. Governor Dunmore, who had 
taken up his headquarters in Norfolk. That step was to be left to the people 
of Hampton. Local resentment had built up against one of Dunmore's sub- 
ordinates. Captain Mathew Squiers of the British sloop-of-war Otter. In 
order to keep the governor's forces supplied, Squiers had been pressing into 
the royal service whatever poultr)- and swine his boats could find running loose 
on the north side of Hampton Roads. When the Otter was driven into Hamp- 
ton River by a storm on September 2, 1775, Squiers apparently went ashore 
in his tender and visited a Major Finn. Some of the local patriots seized this 
opportunity to get their revenge on the "chicken-thief" by burning his boat and 
looting the stores on his ship.''' 

After Squiers had returned to Norfolk, he demanded that his stolen sup- 
plies be returned to him. Tlie committee of safety, as the committee of cor- 
respondence was now called, replied that his stores would be given back if he 
restored one of Henry King's runaway slaves and promised to stop plundering. 
When negotiations broke down, the committee sank five sloops in the channel 
to block the entrance to Hampton River and appealed to Williamsburg for as- 
sistance. On October 24 Squiers launched his attack against Hampton. Landing 
parties in boats tried to get ashore, while the ship, coming in as close as it 
could, fired its guns into the town. Several houses were hit, and fires were 
started in George Cooper's house and in the parish church. Little damage was 
done, however, and the local militia drove off Squiers's boats. The next morn- 
ing a hundred mounted riflemen from Culpeper, under the command of 
Colonel William Woodford came riding into town, and Squiers's renewed 
attack was easily repulsed. In the battle of Hampton the British suffered a loss 
of two killed and two wounded, while the colonial defenders appear to have 
come off unscathed.''^ 

Even after this conflict, all-out war did not begin, and uneasy relations con- 
tinued between the two rival authorities. Hampton's collector of customs, 
Cary Mitchell, who had followed Governor Dunmore to Norfolk, wrote to 
Colonel Cary Selden on November 23 that it was unfair to condemn him as a 
Tory. He was, he protested, a friend of the country as far as he could be con- 


sistent with his office. The reason for his complaint was that a sloop he had 
sent to Hampton to pick up his household effects had been seized by the 
colonists and that a hogshead of fine "Old Spirits" had likewise been con- 
fiscated.'* The unhappy Mitchell never had a chance to recover his lost goods, 
for a month later Virginia launched an attack against Lord Dunmore in 
Norfolk and the property of all Tories was soon legally confiscated. Another 
Hampton Tory, Osgood Hanbury, had his land seized and sold by the town in 

Hampton's most important service during the Revolution was its contribu- 
tion to the Virginia Navy. With the outbreak of war Virginia, which for more 
than a century had been appealing to the British navy for protection against its 
sea-borne enemies, now had to create its own defenses against that same British 
navy. Ships had to be built to patrol the bay, and many of them were con- 
structed at Hampton's South Quay by local workmen. Shipbuilding was di- 
rected by the state board of naval commissioners, headed by Colonel Thomas 
Whiting of Hampton, while another Hampton man, George Hope, was in 
charge of a state shipyard near Richmond. The largest of the vessels constructed 
at Hampton carried thirty-two guns; one of these, the Gloucester, was converted 
into a prison ship. A locally-built schooner, appropriately named the Liberty, 
figured in twenty engagements and came through the war still afloat. 

Among the many Hampton sailors who served in the Virginia Navy the 
most prominent was James Barron, son of the commander at Fort George, 
who had been born at the fort just before it was washed away by the hur- 
ricane. He had gone to sea at the age of ten with a Captain Barrington, and 
while still in his teens had been entrusted with the command of a small ship 
called the Kickotan, owned by Colonel John Hunter of Hampton. When he 
reached maturity, he was placed in charge of a fine ship by a London mer- 
chant named Samuel Guest. At the outset of the Revolution he gave up his 
excellent prospects to take part in the defense of Virginia. After commanding 
a company of sailors durmg the battle of Hampton, he joined the newly- 
organized Virginia Navy and, while cruising in the bay in April, 1776, inter- 
cepted one of Dunmore's dispatch boats. The captured papers revealed the 
British plans for an attack on Charleston, permitting a warning to be sent 
in time to save that city. Three years later he was promoted to the command 
of Virginia's navy, and he held that post until his death in 1787.^^ 

Two of Barron's son were also destined to attain naval prominence. His 
oldest, named Samuel after his grandfather, was born in Hampton in 1765, 
just in time to serve during the Revolution. At the age of fifteen he joined 
the Virginia navy as a midshipman and remained in that service until the 
state navy was abolished with the ratification of the Federal Constitution, 
rising to the rank of captain. After a brief period in the merchant marine, 


he joined the United States Navy and was in command of the fleet sent to 
the shores of Tripoli in 1804 to fight the Barbary pirates. He later became 
commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard, where he died in 1810. His son, 
Samuel, Jr., also served in the United States Navy until Virginia seceded in 
1861, when he resigned to become a commodore in the Confederate navy. 

James Barron's second son, James, Jr., was born in 1768, too late to fight 
in the Revolution, but he likewise entered the Virginia Navy and went from 
that to the United States Navy. He served on board the United States as a 
lieutenant during the naval war with France in 1798 and later became its 
captain. He commanded the Essex during the expedition to Tripoli headed 
by his brother. The most controversial incident in his career came in 1807 
when he took over the Chesapeake, just completed in his brother's navy yard, 
and set out on a trial voyage. Stopped at Lynnhaven Bay by the British ship 
Leopard, he found himself involved in a battle in which he was forced to 
strike his colors. Instead of going to war with Great Britain over this incident, 
the United States court-martialed Captain Barron for "neglecting on the 
probability of an engagement to clear his ship for action," and he was re- 
lieved of command for five years. He was restored to active duty over the 
protests of his fellow-officer, Stephen Decatur, and their quarrel eventually 
led to a duel in 1820, in which Barron was wounded and Decatur killed. 
The duel did not end Barron's career; he became commandant of the Phila- 
delphia Navy Yard and there received Lafayette on his return visit to 
America. He later retired to Norfolk where he died at the ripe old age of 83. 
His daughter, Jane, who married Wilton Hope, became the mother of the 
famed Virginia poet, James Barron Hope.*" 

Meanwhile, before the Revolution ended, Elizabeth City had figured in 
land as well as sea operations. The General Assembly in October, 1776, 
had authorized the governor to erect fortifications at Hampton, and a fort 
was built there under the supervision of a German named John Stadler.*^ 
Lookouts were regularly posted at Point Comfort to keep an eye out for 
approaching vessels. On the last day of 1780 they reported the arrival of 
twenty-seven ships in the bay and passed the news on to the state's new 
capital at Richmond. Governor Thomas Jefferson, as he later told the General 
Assembly, 'stationed expresses from hence to Hampton" in order to get 
prompt information. When he learned on January 2 that the fleet was hostile, 
he called out the militia but to no avail; the British commander, Benedict 
Arnold, who had just turned traitor to the Americans, raided Richmond 
without interference.^* 

Arnold continued to linger in the bay, subject to the harassment of 
Hampton patriots. While Colonel Francis Mallory of the Elizabeth City 


militia was temporarily held prisoner on one of the British ships, his brother, 
Captain Edward Mallory, took oS after an English foraging party about seven 
miles north of Newport News Point. Leading a group of forty mounted 
volunteers, including 'Young Barron" — that is, Samuel, aged fifteen — he 
fell upon the raiders and drove them back to their boat, leaving upon the 
field their badly wounded commander. Captain Brown of the Royal Marines. 
Mallory's party carried him back to Hampton and entrusted him to the care 
of Dr. Brodie, the physician whose daughter had once been insulted. After 
two months of illness. Captain Brown died there. *° 

In March, 1781, another group of British raiders, numbering about two 
hundred, attacked the Halfway House between York and Hampton and then 
started back to Newport News. On the way back they ran into the Elizabeth 
City militia, this time under the command of Colonel Francis Mallory, near 
Big Bethel. Since Mallory had only forty men with him, Jacob Wray urged 
him to flee, but the colonel charged boldly into the British troops and fought 
until he fell dead after receiving many severe wounds. Colonel William 
Roscoe Wilson Curie was taken prisoner in the same engagement. Colonel 
Mallory's mangled body was later recovered from the field and buried in the 
family cemetery at Clover Dale.*" 

A few months later the Elizabeth City militia got their revenge for this 
defeat. When Cornwallis allowed himself to be bottled up at Yorktown, 
the Elizabeth City men turned out to help take part in the siege and soon 
rejoiced to see the British redcoats marching out to the surrender field to the 
tune of "The World Turned Upside Down." Hampton itself figured in the 
battle, as the French took over the courthouse and used it as a hospital for 
some time. 

When the last wounded soldier had been evacuated from the courthouse 
and the French ships had sailed out of the bay, Elizabeth City was left with 
few perceptible signs of the Revolution it had experienced. The royal coat of 
arms on the parish church steeple had been symbolically shattered by light- 
ning from heaven; the fort of 1776 was crumbling into the inevitable ruins; 
and three orphaned Mallory children mourned at the side of a grave at 
Clover Dale. Gone from the county were two of its prominent citizens, 
Lawyer George Wythe and young Doctor James McClurg, who had returned 
from his medical studies at Edinburgh just before the Revolution. When 
Governor Thomas Jelferson had reorganized the College of William and 
Mary in 1779, he had abolished the two professorships of theology in keep- 
ing with the spirit of the new age. In their place he had introduced the 
more practical studies of modern languages, law, and medicine, and for the 
latter two positions he had summoned Wythe and McClurg, McClurg to be 
the second professor of medicine at an American college, Wythe to be the 


first professor of law.* The respect of the state for these two Elizabeth City 
men was shown eight years later, when they were chosen as two of Virginia's 
seven delegates to go to Philadelphia to draw up a new Federal Constitution. 

When the work of these men was submitted to Virginia for ratification, 
Hampton with its interest in improved trade naturally supported the new 
Constitution and rejoiced when Virginia was brought in under the "New 
Roof " by a narrow margin. Federalism remained strong in Hampton, even 
when it was deserted by one of its ablest leaders, Virginia's James Madison. 
The Republican movement, sponsored by Madison and Jefferson, soon came 
to dominate Virginia, but not Hampton. In 1798 the Republican General 
Assembly enthusiastically adopted Madison's famous Virginia Resolves, which 
suggested that a state might interpose its sovereignty to prevent the enforce- 
ment of the detested Alien and Sedition Acts, and sent copies to the county 
courts for distribution. When the Elizabeth City court received the resolu- 
tions, old Colonel Wilson Miles Cary, who thirty years before had paid the 
freight on the crimson cushions for the church and who had served on the 
committee of safety in 1775, thundered his protest against what he considered 
this perversion of the principles of the Revolution for which he had fought. 
To make certain that his feelings might be "known to Posterity," he had the 
clerk record in the county deed book that he was opposed to the 'assumed 
powers of the said House of Delegates and Executive, and to the constitu- 
tionality of the measure, and most sincerely deprecates the evils that must 
result from such novel and rash proceedings."'^ 

Colonel Cary must likewise have deplored the sad state of the parish 
church, which had fallen upon evil days as a result of the Revolution. The 
more radical leaders of the Revolution, allied with dissenters like the Baptists 
and Presbyterians, had succeeded in toppling the established church from its 
historic position by a series of laws which nearly brought about its total 
destruction. The beginning of the end came in 1776 when the General As- 
sembly suspended the collection of the parish tithes for religious purposes. 
Although the Elizabeth City vestry laid a parish levy for the parson's salary 
in April, 1777, it was never collected. The vestry continued to exist as an 
agency of the state and laid taxes for the performance of its secular duties, 
such as caring for the poor, and it continued to manage the affairs of the 
church through whatever voluntary contributions it could obtain. In 1780 
it raised some income by selling for £3400 in inflated Continental currency 
the west gallery in the church, which belonged to Alexander McKenzie, a 

* Wythe counted among his students Jefferson and Marshall; the Law School at William and 
Mary now bears the name Marshall-Wythe. Wythe was a resident of Williamsburg by 1754, a mem- 
ber of the House of Burgesses like his father, Clerk of the House from 1769 to 1775, and in 
1769 Mayor of the Capital City. McClurg was Surgeon-General of Virginia State Troops in Conti- 
nental Service and an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati; his official title at the 
College was "Professor of Anatomy and Medicine." 


Scotch merchant who had gone back to Britain in 1763 and never returned. 
Again two years later it appealed to each person to contribute six shilling per 
tithable to pay the rector's back salary, but there was little result.** 

The Reverend William Selden, who must have sometimes regretted that 
he had ever decided to leave the law, managed to exist on whatever income 
he could get out of the parish glebe land and the slaves belonging to it. 
Finally, in January, 1783, he came to the conclusion that six years without 
salary was enough and gave up the post. The following October the vestry 
persuaded the Reverend William Nixon to agree to serve for one year for 
the use of the parish glebe and slaves, but at the end of his term he too 
decided to leave the ministry and went to Baltimore to establish a classical 
school there.*® For the next five or six years the church seems to have been 
without a regular minister, although there is mention of the Reverend William 
Bland serving the parish in 1786. The parish also was without a vestry, for 
the vestry was dissolved as a civil agency by the legislature and its secular 
duties were handed over to the newly-created overseers of the poor. The 
Elizabeth City overseers also took over the vestry records along with its 
duties, and for the next twenty years the vestry book contains the proceedings 
of the overseers of the poor.®* 

The church property meanwhile was administered by a board of trustees, 
who kept no records that have been preserved. Indeed, they did not even 
keep up the church itself, for the county justices in 1788 disapprovingly 
rebuked them for letting "the horses and cattle run in the church yard," in- 
dicating that the gates had collapsed.®' Nothing was done about this problem 
for want of the necessary financial contributions, but the trustees did succeed 
in keeping the pulpit filled for the next few years. About 1789 the Reverend 
Henry Skyren arrived and served the parish until his death in 1795, when he 
was buried in the churchyard; according to his tombstone, he had been born 
in Whitehaven, England, in 1729. He was succeeded by a Harvard man, the 
Reverend John James Spooner, who had left Massachusetts after business 
reverses and come to Virginia. Ordained a priest by Bishop James Madison 
in 1792, he came to Hampton in 1796 and served as minister until he died 
three years later at the age of forty-two.®^ He in turn was probably succeeded 
by the Reverend Benjamin Brown, who came to Hampton from New Kent 
County. He was married to Rachel C. Garrett, a Hampton girl who, according 
to local tradition, had married Count Rochambeau when the French soldiers 
were in town and had gone back to France with him, only to learn that the 
Frenchman was a gay deceiver, and had returned disillusioned to Hampton. 
The Reverend Mr. Brown died in 1806 at the age of thirty-nine and, like 
his two immediate predecessors, was buried in the churchyard.®^ 

His death brought parish affairs to a crisis, for the glebe land had been 
sold in 1802 by act of assembly, and nothing was left but the church itself, 

Va. 11 


which was threatening to fall down at any moment. The congregation at 
last awoke from its apathy and attempted to save the church. A new vestry 
was organized, and the old vestry book rescued from the overseers of the 
poor. The churchyard wall was repaired and new gates installed to keep the 
cows out; the book records the melancholy fact that the work had to be done 
at the joint expense of the vestrymen. Since replacing the rotting steeple was 
beyond the power of their purse, they had the bell taken down and set up 
on the ground in the corner between the tower and the church. A new 
minister, the Reverend Robert S. Symes, was elected, but unfortunately no 
provision was made for his salary, and he failed to come. At last, in 1810, 
the Reverend George Holson, who was principal of Hampton Academy, 
agreed to act as rector, but nothing further came of this. The vestry did not 
meet again for sixteen years, no money was collected for the minister's salary, 
and the church continued to decay.^^ 

The Hampton Academy of which Mr. Holson was principal was the result 
of a minor revolution staged by the people of the town. The gentlemen of 
Hampton, feeling the need of an academy to provide higher education for 
their sons who had completed their studies in the private elementary schools 
of the town, in 1804 hit upon the scheme of using the endowments of the 
Syms Free School and the Eaton Charity School for that purpose. The plan 
could scarcely have been more revolutionary: it proposed to convert the 
endowments from land into cash; it proposed to transfer them from their 
original intention of providing free schools to operate one where tuition 
would be charged; it proposed to transform two elementary schools into 
one secondary school; and, worst of all from the viewpoint of the people 
on Back River, it proposed to move the school to Hampton. 

In order to carry out their plans, the sponsors of the new academy went 
to the legislature for permission to take over the Syms and Eaton lands. Their 
petition began by piously deploring the sorry condition of the free schools: 

We view with anxious concern, the unfortunate Situation of the Youth 
who are debarred from enjoying and receiving that inestimable blessing of 
useful and ornamental education contemplated even in the plain manner of 
their charitable Patrons by default of the Trustees continuing to manage this 
valuable Property in the way pointed out by the testators, which causes a 
deficiency of funds to carry the same into eflfect; past experience has fully 
proved to us that a CONTRARY PLAN of management and we trust similar 
to the one now ardently PRAYED for would produce the fortunate effects 
now contemplated, and that the interference of your honorable house will 
be the only means from which we may hope to see these interesting plans 
realized, and this donation become beneficial to Society. 

THE SMALL and limited income of these Lands is not an object sufficient 
to induce a Man of literature to take charge of the Schools and it is a very 


natural conclusion that when Men are badly paid for Services, They are as 
indifferently rendered, hence we may trace one of the principal causes of 
neglect in attending to the instruction of youth under Charitable institutions."-'" 

The petitioners followed this with an explanation of their proposal for 
ending this unfortunate situation. All the school lands were to be sold — the 
lessees would be glad to surrender their rights — the money was to be in- 
vested at interest along with other large sums which were to be subscribed 
in the county, and this income was to be used for the operation of the new 
Hampton Academy. All the children entitled to attend the existing schools 
would of course be permitted to come to Hampton and go to the academy 
without charge.*® 

The news of this scheme to close the free schools rufHed the waters of 
Back River. In reply to "one of the most unreasonable and injurious Petitions 
that could be invented," the Back River residents presented their protest, 
declaring that granting the requests of the Hamptonites would be 

attended with the most injurious consequences to the poor inhabitants residing 
in the vicinity of said Schools that could happen, because there are a number 
of poor people who reside in the vicinity of the School who have not a Horse 
for their Children to ride on and have heavy rent to pay and perhaps not a 
second suit of Clothes to appear decent in so public a place as Hampton is; 
then pray what advantage would this Academy be to the poor objects of 
Charity who reside in the vicinity of the two Schools. 

The one called Eaton part of its vicinity is six miles and Syms's Ten Miles 
from the same place: now in this case, pray let your Hon. House judge what 
profit or signification would this Academy be to those poor Children who we 
may suppose were the very objects of the Donations; now for the reasons 
above mentioned, we beg leave to observe to your Hon. House that an 
Academy might as well be established in Kentucky as at Hampton if those 
poor children cannot repair there for to receive their education. 

If these Gentlemen who are at the helm of that Petition are so zealous 
for erecting an Academy as is prayed for, for Heaven's sake why do they not 
do it and of their own estates? as there are some of them who are very able 
and could perhaps contribute two or three Thousand Dollars without injuring 
their families; but for Heaven's sake do not permit them to meddle with 
private and benevolent Donations.*^ 

The Back River petitioners might have made more impression if a number 
of the signers had not revealed their own failure to take advantage of their 
educational opportunities by being unable to write their names. At any rate, 
the General Assembly made its own investigation of the situation before 
approving the Hampton Academy proposal, as the preamble to the incor- 
porating act reports: 


that for a number of years past, the schools thereon estabhshed, have been 
most shamefully neglected, the buildings suffered to tumble into ruins, and 
the land dismembered of nearly all its most valuable timber, and used for 
purposes not designed by the donors: That the magistrates of the said county, 
who heretofore have considered themselves as answering the description of 
"commissioners," and "commissioners of the liberty," designated and declared 
in the said deed and will, trustees to carry into effect the benevolent intentions 
of the aforesaid donors, are unwilling to exercise any authority over the said 
property and schools, because there are now no persons in the said county 
under the denomination of church wardens, with whom they can associate, 
and who are required by the said charters of conveyance to be co-trustees with 
those commissioners described therein; in consequence whereof, one school is 
totally discontinued, and the other under no control, but in the most wretched 
and deplorable situation.'-"* 

These facts convinced the legislature that the "wretched and deplorable" 
school still open — evidently the Syms school, which still had an income 
under the 1760 lease to George Wythe — should be closed. The only con- 
cession won by the Back River folks was a provision for popular election of 
the academy trustees, which gave the county people a chance to outvote the 
townsmen and take control. One fair-minded assemblyman, studying the 
documents in the case and noticing Syms's interest in Poquoson parish, in- 
serted into the bill a provision that "the said parish of Poquoson . . . shall 
be . . . authorized to send six poor and indigent children to be educated at 
the said academy," without seeming to realize that there had been no legal 
parish of Poquoson in Virginia for many years.^" 

The first county election to choose the new trustees was called for 
April 23, 1805, and on June 27 the new board of trustees was reported 
chosen. The promised subscriptions came in, a lot was bought on Gary Street, 
and a building was erected there. The school lands were all sold within the 
next few years, the last to go being the Syms tract, which reverted to the 
trustees after George Wythe's death in 1806. When it was disposed of three 
years later, it turned out to have three hundred acres in it after all instead 
of two hundred Syms supposed he had. The Eaton tract likewise seems to 
have grown from five hundred to seven hundred acres, demonstrating the 
generosity of seventeenth century surveying. The school lands brought in 
altogether something less than $7,000, and enough subscriptions were paid 
in to raise the cash endowment to $20,000. The trustees used this as a 
mortgage fund, lending it to local citizens, and the interest paid the teacher's 
salary. Certainly by 1810, and probably earlier, the Hampton Academy was 
in operation.^*"' 

In 1811 Hampton had some excitement over suspected arson. When two 
houses in town caught fire, three slaves named Jupiter, Billy, and Caesar were 


brought before the county court on charges of having started the fire, but 
all three were acquitted. The next month, on November 11, James Banks's 
blacksmith shop near the courthouse burned down, and Billy and Caesar 
were brought back to court again, accused of having set this fire. Billy and 
Caesar produced alibis, supported by several fellow slaves. Their case col- 
lapsed, however, when a deaf mute named Edward Hurst testified by the 
sign language, with his father interpreting, that he had seen them pass the 
courthouse with fire in their hands, place the brands inside the blacksmith's 
shop, and carefully blow it into a flame before escaping through a back door 
and over the fence. Billy and Caesar were sentenced to be hanged at the 
crossroads on the first Friday in January, 1812.^"^ 

The hanging in January was followed by the news of war in June. Once 
more, the United States, provoked beyond endurance by its mother country, 
went to war against England, and again Hampton became involved. The town 
cheered its naval hero. Commodore Lewis Warrington, grandson of the 
minister who had been thrust upon Elizabeth City parish by Governor Din- 
widdle. Commodore Warrington, commanding the Peacock, captured the 
British sloop of war Epervier with £118,000 sterling aboard and took four- 
teen more English merchantmen before ending his voyage in New York.^"- 

By 1813 the war had taken a more threatening turn, as England prepared 
to invade the United States. A small force was stationed at Hampton under 
the command of Major Stapleton Crutchfield to defend the town against 
possible attack. Four artillery pieces, manned by sixty-two artillerymen, were 
placed on the town waterfront to cover the channel, while the 349 infantry- 
men and 25 cavalrymen camped out at Little England plantation on Sunset 
Creek. For the camp's dinnerbell they carted off the old bell from the 
abandoned parish church and rang it lustily until the tongue fell out; after that 
they pounded it with an ax until the aged metal cracked in protest. ^''^ 

By that time, however, the camp had far more to worry about than a 
cracked dinner bell. In June a British fleet under Admiral Cockburn arrived 
in the bay, and Hampton's defenders watched while the Virginia militia 
on the south side boldly drove them off as they attempted to land at Craney 
Island. Peacefully remote from the battle, the justices sat at the Hampton 
courthouse on June 24, levying the taxes as usual, but that night the British 
decided to avenge Captain Squiers. Next morning a force was landed two 
miles west of town at Indian River to attack the Little England encamp- 
ment. Landing boats trying to come up Hampton River were repulsed by 
the cannon on the water front, but the ships at the mouth of the river began 
firing into the town and the arrival of the superior British force from the 
west forced the men at Little England to flee, leaving the town to the 
British. The casualties for this second battle of Hampton were, for the 


Americans, 7 killed, 12 wounded, 1 prisoner, 11 missing; for the British, 
5 dead, 33 wounded, ten missing.^"^ 

The people of Hampton now learned something of the problems of being 
occupied by a rough and ill; disciplined soldiery. Many civilians fled in alarm, 
leaving their empty houses to be plundered by drunken redcoats. The county 
clerk took time to get the precious records, going all the way back to 1634, 
out of the courthouse and cart them off to safety. As those who remained 
burned with indignation at the insults and the thievery of the British, rumor 
quickly multiplied their tales into an orgy of crime and violence. Four days 
after the British landings and even before the town had been evacuated, 
Armistead Thomson Mason was writing from Fort Norfolk on the south side: 

The conduct of the British toward the inhabitants of Hampton has been 
cruel and infamous beyond expression. They have literally plundered the town 
of every atom of moveable property; they have insulted and abased the citi- 
zens in the grossest and most brutal manner; in several instances they com- 
mitted deliberate murder. ^"^ 

Governor Barbour reported to the Virginia legislature that private houses 
had been plundered, gray hairs exposed to wanton insult, a sick man murdered 
in his bed, females publicly borne off to suffer the last degree of unutterable 
violence, and the house of God given over to sacrilegious outrage. By the 
time war propaganda and legend had done their work, it was common belief 
that many buildings had been burned.^"" 

Bad though the British misbehavior was in the theoretically enlightened 
nineteenth century, the evidence shows that it was not as bad as reported. 
One man, a Mr. Kirby, who was sick in bed, did die, either from fright or 
some action of the soldiers who broke into his house and shot his wife in the 
hip; four women claimed to have been raped; and the aged Mr. Hope 
was insulted and maltreated. These were the only reports of physical violence, 
and the only property burned was John Shields' pilot boat. If the British did 
quarter their troops in the empty old church and slaughter cattle in the church- 
yard, they showed the building no more irreverence than the people of Hamp- 
ton did by their neglect and did it less permanent damage than the troops at 
Little England. 

The best confirmed of the stories are those concerning the efficient looting 
of the redcoats; it was said that there was scarcely a silver knife, fork, or 
piece of plate left in Hampton. The soldiers naturally fed themselves gener- 
ously on all the stray livestock they could round up; lovers of mutton carried 
off sixty-five of Miles Gary's sheep. Zerubabel Roberts reported a total loss 
of eight head of cattle, twenty-four sheep, one hundred fifty poultry, forty 
geese, some corn, a teakettle, a gun and shot bag, and his Negro boy Luke. 
Negroes were the biggest loss to local residents, as slaves seized the oppor- 


tunity for emancipation offered by the presence of the British fleet. While 
the British were still at Point Comfort, three of the Widow Lowry's servants 
came in and offered their services to Captain Stewart of the Royal Marines. 
The captain gave them their choice between the army and the navy, and 
all three decided to become soldiers. 

In spite of Hampton's anger at the late occupation forces, relations with 
the enemy became quite sociable as the British fleet remained anchored in 
Hampton Roads for a month. As early as July 1 Thomas Griffin and Robert 
Lively had rowed out to get permission to obtain medical supplies. Charles 
M. Collier, who operated the Norfolk ferry, hailed the British vessels as 
he passed them on his regular trips to the Elizabeth River; one day the 
captain of the Plantagenet told him that a whole boat load of Negroes had 
come in from Newport News Point a few days before. William Cooper went 
out to see and reported that there were thirteen Negroes belonging to John 
Cooper's estate on board one vessel. John's widow Ann, a determined woman, 
rowed out herself, climbed aboard the Plantagenet, where she saw five of her 
slaves, and got close enough to the Dotteret to spot three other fugitives.^"^ 

Although these runaway servants sailed with the British fleet out through 
the capes to freedom, their owners were eventually compensated for their 
loss by the Federal Government; the government, in fact, paid for every- 
thing, down to the cracked bell. Another British fleet came back the fol- 
lowing summer, but this one did not stop to visit at Hampton. It proceeded 
on up the bay to a more important mission, the burning of Washington. As 
the lookouts at Point Comfort saw the fleet come back down the bay and 
watched its sails disappear between the capes, they could hope that for the last 
time a hostile invader had troubled the peaceful waters of the Chesapeake. 

Notes on Chapter VI 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 


Starkey, op. cit., p. 4}. 


Ibid., p. 27. 


Ibid., p. 28. 


Virginia Gazette, June 2, 1738. 


Starkey, op. cit., p. 23. 


} H 219. 


Starkey, op. cit., p. 41. 


3 H 471. 


5 H 364, 6 H 19. 


6 H 496. 


8 H 264. 


Starkey, op. cit., p. 43; see also 4 H 376. 


4 H 306. 

14. Starkey, op. cit., p. 43. 


15. 20 W (1) 169. 

16. Starkey, op. cit., p. 43. 

17. Ibid., p. 25. 

18. Loc. cit. 

19. Starkey, op. cit., p. 22. 

20. Ibid., p. 43. 

21. Loc f//. 

22. 37 V 110. 

23. Huntley, "The Seaborne Trade of Virginia." 

24. Virginia Council Journals, 14 V 242. 

25. Mason, op. cit., p. 107. 

26. 32 V 246-7. 

27. Mason, op. cit., p. 108. 

28. Loc. cit. 

29. Ibid., p. 109. 

30. HefFelfinger, op. cit., p. 19. 

31. 2 W (1) 210, 9 W (1) 130. 

32. "Papers Relating to the Administration of Governor Nicholson," 8 V 276-8. 

33. Heffelfinger, op. cit., p. 19. 

34. Ibid., p. 20. 

35. Starkey, op. cit., p. 23. 
.36. Tyler, op. cit., p. 30. 

37. Loc. cit. 

38. Ibid., p. 31. 

39. Ibid., p. 33. 

40. Ibid., p. 34. 

41. Loc. cit. 

42. Heflfelfinger, op. cit., p. 23. 

43. Ibid., p. 25. 

44. Mason, op. cit., p. 110. 

45. Ibid., pp. 110-111. 

46. Heffelfinger, op. cit., p. 25; Mason, op. cit., p. 111. 

47. Campbell, op. cit., p. 8 

48. Ibid., pp. 8-9. 

49. 4 H 306, quoted in Campbell, p. 9. 

50. 6 H 392, quoted in Campbell, p. 10. 

51. 7 H 317-20, quoted in Campbell, p. 10. 

52. Campbell, op. cit., p. 8. 

53. Ibid., p. 9. 

54. Ibid., pp. 24-25. 

55. Ibid., pp. 10-11. 

56. Ibid., pp. 25-26. 

57. Starkey, op. cit., p. 35. 

58. Loc. cit. 

59. 21 V 197-8. 

60. "Medical Men of Virginia," 19 W (1) 157. 

61. Starkey, op. cit., p. 35. 

62. Tyler, op. cit., p. 34. 

63. Starkey, op. cit., p. 24. 

64. Ibid., pp. 24-25. 

65. Ibid., p. 24. 

66. Virginia Gazette, September 9, 1737. 

67. Middleton, Tobacco Coast, pp. 323-327; Heffelfinger, op. cit.. p. 20. 

68. Middleton, op. cit., p. 329. 

69. 15 V 123, 127. 

70. Middleton, op. cit., p. 330. 

71. Tyler, op. cit., p. 36. 

72. Middleton, op. cit., pp. 332-333, 425; Tyler, op. cit., pp. 36-37. 

73. Starkey, op. cit., p. 44; 6 V 386-8. 

74. 20 W (1) 172-3. 


75. 20 W (1) 173. 

76. 5 W (1) 103. 

77. Starkey, op. cit., p. 46. 

78. Starkey, op. cit., pp. 46-47. 

79. 19 V 164-5. 

80. Starkey, op. cit., p. 46. 

81. Tyler, op. cit., pp. 41-43. 

82. Ihid., pp. 44-45. 

83. 9 H 192, 17 V 248. 

84. 10 H 573. 

85. Heffelfinger, op. cit., p. 27. 

86. Ibid., pp. 26-27; Tyler, op. cit., p. 43. 
87 Starkey, op. cit., p. 53. 

88. Mason, op. cit., p. 112; Heffelfinger, op. cit., pp. 27-28. 

89. Ibid., p. 28; 19 W (2) 413. 

90. Heffelfinger, op. cit., p. 28; Mason, op. cit., p. 112. 

91. Starkey, op. cit., p. 50 

92. Heffelfinger, p. 29; 14 W (1) 168-172, 19 W (2) 417. 

93. 8 W (2) 204. 

94. Mason, p. 112; Heffelfinger, p. 30; 19 W (2) 427. 

95. Campbell, op. cit., pp. 26-27. 

96. hoc. cit. 

97. Ibid., pp. 30-31. 

98. Ibid., p. 12. 

99. Loc. cit. 

100. Ibid., pp. 13-14, 32-33. 

101. Starkey, op. cit., p. 54. 

102. Tyler, op. cit., p. 46. 

103. Starkey, op. cit., pp. 55-56; Mason, op. cit., p. 113. 

104. Starkey, op. cit., pp. 55-56 

105. 23 W (1) 230. 

106. Tyler, op. cit., p. 46; Campbell, op. cit., p. 14. 

107. Starkey, op. cit., p. 56, 57. 

Chapter VII 

The Town and City of Hampton and Elizabeth City County 


By Floyd Mc Knight* 

THE MODERN CITY of Hampton is thus descended from what is the 
oldest continuously occupied English-speaking settlement and Anglican 
parish in America, which has borne the same name since 1620. 

From the ashes of destruction, detailed in the preceding chapters, a new 
Hampton began to rise in 1814. Though a portion of St. John's Church was 
almost the only building of any kind left standing, this vestige of a one-time 
faith encountered a period of disgust and religious apathy — not the less so be- 
cause of its straight-line descent from a no-longer-popular Church of England, 
the Established Church of a nation which had been twice a bitter enemy of a 
daughter nation disposed toward independence. What the plunder of war had 
not accomplished, the ensuing lassitude of peace performed. The church itself 
fell to ruin. Its yard became pasture land. And such continued to be the con- 
dition until 1824, when a revival began under the leadership of Bishop Richard 
C. Moore. Perhaps apathy had run its course, and Mrs. Jane Barron Hope 
is quoted as having remarked. "If I were a man, I would have these walls built 

Feminine enthusiasm is most likely the strongest pillar of religion. Her 
plea seemed not to fall upon deaf ears. And further talk of a similar nature led 
to a popular subscription movement by the church vestry, who so voted on 
April 28, 1826. In that year the citizens of Hampton met at the Court House 
and elected a full vestry of twelve men. In September the vestry elected church- 
wardens, and the Rev. Mark Chevers was chosen to be minister. Repairs to the 
church building were finished in 1828, and the newly reconstructed St. John's 
Church was consecrated on March 6, 1830, by Bishop Moore. 

It may seem somewhat strange to begin the story of present-day Hampton 
with repairs to a church. Yet those repairs were significant, in that, from all 
accounts, the church was the only structure left that was susceptible to repair 
— so complete had been the town's destruction. Besides, the very approach to 
those repairs indicated the general state of mind of the populace at that time — 
a fact of considerable importance when one recognizes that states of mind pre- 
cede, as well as follow, important historical developments, especially when these 

* See Foreword. 


developments represent creations and not demolitions. Indeed, a greater number 
of events than may at first be imagined are tiie results of cultural-spiritual 

Another such impulse was discernible in the establishment in 1814 of the 
Syms-Eaton School — a more important step than the founding of a single small 
institution of learning could possibly possess as an event in itself. For the school 
so founded was a direct descendant of the first free school in America. The first 
such school came into being almost as early as the first church. It was in 1623/4 
that an act of the Virginia Assembly called for a house or room to be set apart 
at every plantation for divine worship. As the commanding voice in the 
Elizabeth City Corporation settlement, Captain William Tucker was in charge of 
its construction. In 1634/5 Benjamin Syms wrote his will bequeathing 500 pounds 
of tobacco to "the Church of Old Poquoson" and 200 pounds to its minister at 
the time when the will was proved*, and, additionally, left a bequest for a 
"free school" for poor children of the adjoining parishes of Elizabeth City and 
Poquoson. Another early school was the Eaton Charity School. Eventually the 
two free schools were combined to form the Syms-Eaton Academy. This 
academy, now converted into Syms-Eaton Museum, occupies a brick structure 
visible to the passerby proceeding westward on Queen Street just before he 
reaches the bridge. 

In 1846 the General Assembly adopted the public school system for the 
entire state of Virginia, and five years later Hampton Academy, as the school 
was known in the early nineteenth century, became a part of the public school 
system, which still derives income from the seventeenth century legacies. Mean- 
while, John B. Cary, the academy's last principal, headed it for seven years 
until the change was effected. In 1852 Mr. Cary purchased a home on "the 
Point" and bought adjacent land from the old academy, then proceeded to put 
up the most finely equipped school building south of Boston and New York on 
the basis of a thorough study of school systems and methods. A military feature 
was added, whereupon the name was changed to Hampton Military Academy. 

Hampton Military Academy continued for some years under eminent teach- 
ers, having had a faculty on which European universities were represented. 
There was always a man from Virginia Military Institute on the faculty. 
Teachers included such men as Colonel Thomas Tebb, of Hampton, a Princeton 
graduate; Jesse Jones, of the College of William and Mary; and Colonel W. E. 
Cutshaw, of Virginia Military Institute, the school's last commandant. While 
he was so serving, the War between the States started and in May, 1861, the 
school was closed after Mr. Cary called his students to a quiet meeting and told 
them the dire turn of events. 

The bombardment of Fort Sumter came on April 13, 1861, and on April 15 

* Probably in 1636. 


President Lincoln called for volunteers. On April 17 Virginia passed an act of 
secession, which was later ratified by a 100,000 majority. On the 20th, large 
reinforcements landed at Fort Monroe. A figure who was destined to play a 
prominent role in the early stages of the War between the States was the form- 
er head of Hampton Military Academy, Mr. Gary, who was commissioned a 
major and assigned to take charge of troops in the Hampton area. He headed a 
unit of 200 undisciplined men at a period when the Union forces were 10,000 
strong and were no farther than three miles away. 

Instructions from General Lee were to watch closely every Union move, 
even though Virginia was still in the Union pending ratification of secession. 
Lee's command was that his troops should abstain from any action which would 
provoke a collision. If an attack came, his men were to fell trees and throw 
them and other obstacles in the enemy's path. There was not yet war, but there 
was terrific tension — perhaps the 1861 version of "cold war" uncertainty. 

It was on the evening of May 23 that pickets on duty announced that a 
regiment was approaching. They were United States troops, supported by a 
battery of six field pieces. At that juncture citizens of every walk of life rushed 
forward with whatever arms they could find. Major Gary, the leader, ordered 
the men to assemble at the Gourt House and fall back beyond New Bridge, 
which spans Back River, one and one-half miles away from Hampton and on 
the road to Big Bethel, there to await orders. He called to his aid his former 
Academy assistant. Lieutenant Gutshaw, and ordered "tar, pitch and turpentine" 
to be carried to the bridge between Hampton and Old Point. The bridge was 
to be set afire to prevent entry of the Union troops into Hampton. Seeing the 
flames, the federal men advanced in double-quick time. Lieutenant Gutshaw 
then rode across the burning bridge and asked the troops with what intent they 
came. The answer was that they had orders to march to Hampton. Major Gary 
thereupon met Golonel Phelps of Vermont, the commanding officer of the 
Union men, and remonstrated over the invasion as an "act of war," not justified 
by existing circumstances. 

Golonel Phelps insisted that he must obey his orders. His men thereupon 
attempted to extinguish the fire by destroying the timbers of the bridge. At 
length a compromise was reached, with a mutual pledge that no act of violence 
be committed by either side. Gary himself ordered the flames extinguished, and 
the Federal troops moved into the town. Golonel Phelps and Major Gary 
walked side by side at the head of the regiment, to the tune of curses uttered 
in audible tones against Gary as well as against the "invaders." But no shot was 
fired. The men marched back to Fort Monroe. 

Who is to say whether, if such calm had continued to prevail, war might 
not have been prevented? Gertainly any other course would have meant 
the sacking of the town and the killing of helpless people, women and 
children along with the male population. In addition, the Federal troops 


would have been enabled to proceed immediately to Yorktown and occupy 
it, held as it was at that time by only three companies of infantry under Major 
Montague (later Colonel Montague) . In fact, the Town of Hampton remained 
thereafter a continuing obstacle on the Union path to any march on Richmond. 

General Benjamin F. Butler was then in command of the Union forces at 
Fort Monroe, which was the only place in Virginia held by Federal troops.* 
Butler also held a number of runaway slaves, who had come to be called "con- 
traband" because Butler had refused to return some of them to a protesting 
Southern owner, declaring these escaped Negroes to be "contraband of war." 
The term came into common use thereafter. Protesting Butler's action, Major 
Gary sent a flag of truce to Butler, and they met on May 24. At that conference, 
as far as is known, the term was first used. Although some later disputed this 
origin of the term, Butler himself confirmed it in his autobiography, in which 
was reprinted a letter from Major Gary substantiating his statements. Many 
of the "contrabands" remained residents of the area after the war. 

When the two men were about to separate after their conference, Gary 
asked Butler a single favor — that he be allowed to move his personal library 
to a safe place, to which Butler allegedly agreed. But meanwhile Hampton 
was blockaded before Major Gary had an opportunity to do anything about 
his books. Butler had said that "books neither fed nor clothed an army," and 
he personally sent a permit to have his enemy's library moved to Smithfield, 
Virginia. Evacuation of Hampton on the following Monday, following the 
landing of Federal men at Newport News, eliminated the last chance to carry 
out that removal. Butler himself then took charge of Major Gary's library, 
writing a letter: 

Hd. Qrs. of Va. 
June 22, 1861. 
Major J. B. Gary. 
Dear Sir, 

Finding that your library had been disturbed at Hampton, I have done 
that which I advised you to do, brought it to Fortress Monroe for safe keeping 
where it awaits your requisition unless you deem it safer there than anywhere 
else you can send it. 

I have the honor to remain 

Very respectfully your obedient servant 

Benj. F. Butler, 
Major Gen. Gom. 

At the end of the war Butler had been long since gone from Fort Monroe. 
The library of Major Gary had been placed in the Soldiers' Hospital at 
Hampton. A few scattered and defaced volumes were rescued — a painful 

* See Chapter VIII for the story of Fort Monroe. 


souvenir o£ the four years' destructive warfare, which the best of good will 
on the part of two understanding officers could not render less painful!* 

When the Federal forces landed at Newport News on May 27, 1861, Gary 
ordered his battalion to fall back to Big Bethel, where the first engagement of 
the war took place, except for a brief skirmish at Winchester, in which 
Lieutenant Marr was killed. Citizens were notified that the new bridge which 
they had built would be burned on that afternoon, and an exodus of families 
took place to Yorktown and Williamsburg. Many of those families wandered 
homeless and penniless throughout the war. One officer from Yorktown wrote: 

My heart is torn every day by the sufferings of our people, of the wives 
and children of the private soldiers with nothing to live on but their monthly 
pittance, and provisions so scarce and high that a good meal is unknown 
even to the wealthy. Our good friend, Jim Massenburg, had to make a coffin 
for his own child. 

The Confederates themselves burned Hampton on August 7, 1861. Gen- 
eral Magruder, encamped near New Market, ordered Major Jeff Phillips of 
the Third Virginia Cavalry, which contained the "Old Dominion Dragoons" 
of Hampton and Elizabeth City County, to report to him at a house two miles 
from town. He announced on that occasion that articles in a number of 
Northern newspapers said that the Federal forces would make Hampton 
their headquarters in the coming winter. Four squads thereupon levelled the 
town that very evening, many men setting fire to their own homes. The 
only visible remains of Hampton after that fire of 1861 was a wall of St. 
John's Church. 

Thus becoming the first Virginia community to be occupied by Federal 
troops in the War for Southern Independence, Hampton later in the war 
was the site of a large Army hospital. After the war it underwent some 
development as a result of the introduction of many modern industries into 
Newport News in the wake of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's construc- 
tion of its terminal there. The township status continued until 1908, although 
in 1849 it became an incorporated town. At the time of incorporation, the 
Act of Assembly of 1849 declared that "the town of Hampton in the County 
of Elizabeth City, as the same as heretofore laid off into lots, streets and 
alleys, and as the same may be hereafter further laid off into lots, streets and 
alleys, shall be a town corporate by the name, Town of Hampton in Elizabeth 
City County." Subsequent acts affecting incorporation were adopted in 1852, 
1860 and 1887. 

In order to understand the history of Hampton's municipal organization 
through its many changes, against the background of Virginia political 

* Butler's reported behavior in this affair — if true — certainly was not in accord with the char- 
acter he later displayed in Norfolk and New Orleans, which earned for him the nickname "Beast" 
Butler and the undying hatred of the people there. — Editor's Note. 


philosophy and the economic changes of the nineteenth century, it will be 
best to review prevailing Virginia practices with respect to community or- 
ganization and incorporation. The four stages of municipal development or 
status in Virginia are: (l) Establishment as a town. (2) Incorporation. 
(3) Elevation to cityhood. (4) Advancement to a city of the first class. 
Hampton has, in the course of its history, enjoyed all four of these conditions 
which it is possible for Virginia municipalities to attain. In 1680, 1691 and 
1705 came the first status, establishment as a town;* in 1849, incorporation; 
in 1908, elevation to cityhood; and in 1952, its present status as a city of the 
first class. 

Hampton was, in fact, one of twenty towns required to be established in 
1680; exactly how soon after that date the construction was begun is impos- 
sible to say because of lack of legal records.** Feoffees (trustees) were named 
in unincorporated towns, their main duties being to sell lots and choose 
public building sites. When Hampton entered upon its incorporated state in 
1849, its organization was evidently not sufficiently clarified or perhaps 
failed to function as it should have done, for a reincorporation took place 
on May 11, 1852. The act of 1852 was repealed on March 27, I860. A third 
incorporation took place on May 23, 1887 and on March 30, 1908 Hampton 
became a city of the second class by court order under provisions of gen- 
eral law. 

The act of 1952, which produced the present-day City of Hampton, in- 
volved a consolidation of Elizabeth City County, the Town of Phoebus and 
the second class City of Hampton to form one large city to be known as 
Hampton. From a small community embraced within a square mile's area, 
Hampton thus became overnight the second largest city in the state in geo- 
graphical extent, the sixth largest in population and the eighth largest in 
taxable wealth. A population of 60,000 came within its purview, and this 
figure grew in the years that followed as new industries settled here. The 
present city is estimated to have a population of 80,000. 

Back in 1776, when independent nationhood began by adoption of the 
Declaration of Independence, there were only three chartered corporations 
in Virginia — the College of William and Mary, chartered by the Crown in 
1693; the City of WilUamsburg, chartered in 1722; and the Borough of 
Norfolk, chartered in 1736. Throughout the colonial period no other firm, 
company, society or association was chartered, though Sym's Free School and 
Eaton's Charity School were incorporated by Act of Assembly in 1753 and 
1759 respectively. Only six incorporations took place during the later eigh- 
teenth century — between 1776 and 1800. The nineteenth century brought a 
tremendous number of requests for incorporation by organizations, with the 

♦ Each time, the enabling act was repealed. 
** See chapters X and XII for details. 


result that the Legislature's time was increasingly taken up with handling 
them all individually. 

To overcome this legislative bottleneck, an act was adopted in 1834 
empowering courts to incorporate organizations under provisions of general 
law. That act was afterward repeatedly amended to meet new conditions 
and sew up loopholes. An act of 1871 empowered courts to incorporate any 
stock company to conduct almost any kind of business, notable exceptions 
being the operation of a bank and the construction of a railroad, a turnpike 
or a canal beyond the limits of the county in which the organization's 
principal office was established. In I860 an attempt was made to create a 
single standard form of corporate charter, and an act of 1870 amended and 
re-enacted that law. 

Before 1902 the Board of Public Works had supervision over stock 
companies, but not power to incorporate them in the first instance. In 1902 
the State Corporation Commission was created as successor to the Board of 
Public Works. This newly-created commission, as an agency of the State 
Government, sets up corporations of companies, societies, associations, towns 
and second-class cities. Only rare cases now require an act of Assembly to 
effect transitions of towns to second-class cities or second-class cities to first- 
class cities; the State Corporation Commission customarily handles these 
changes in local governmental form. If the Assembly is required to take 
action, any act it passes pertaining to a particular municipality has to be a 
special act, and a two-thirds majority is required in both legislative branches. 
This set-up for creation of towns and cities was established in the present 
State Constitution, adopted in 1902. 

For a considerable period talk of consolidations took place. When such 
projects failed, propositions for annexation were heard. And, naturally, the 
State itself had built up a body of law governing both annexations and 
consolidations of political divisions and units. Both Hampton and Warwick 
considered that they had the right of self-determination whenever rumors 
were heard that the city of Newport News was ready to annex them. As 
protection against the annexation talk, which many feared might suddenly 
crystallize in legislative acts that would be hard to stop, both Warwick and 
Hampton started their own compaigns for cityhood. Newport News had 
actually been successful in seven annexation suits, the last of them in 1940. 
Large population ratios were made up of newcomers who did not necessarily 
share the old-timers' sectional loyalties. And two world wars did not help 
to suppress the modern trend. Newport News was again instituting an 
annexation suit in 1950, in which year a three-way merger of Newport News, 
Warwick and Hampton was proposed. 

Dissent from the idea of annexation and consolidation was at all times 
strong in Hampton, Elizabeth City County and Phoebus. An antagonism, 

Va. 12 


very deeply felt, existed against the tendency of recent annexation laws to 
allocate a secondary position to counties as compared with more thickly 
populated areas involved. Pressure for change was strong, however, not only 
in Newport News, which needed breathing space, but in state governmental 
circles, where the feeling in favor of cityhood status was strong. As recent 
a leader as Governor Ritchie of Maryland expressed the feeling very suc- 
cinctly when he said that "cities must be permitted to grow." Virginia law 
has consistently implied acceptance of this doctrine. An act passed as long ago 
as 1705, rejected by the English Crown only because of certain weaknesses, 
exempted town residents from certain taxes, debts, impost duties, military 
service and other burdens. The tendency in Virginia law also was to allow 
broad independence to cities. 

A state which has been recognized as a leader in introducing more efficient 
forms of government — both the city manager and county manager forms 
originated and were first applied in Virginia, along with the added feature 
of a referendum for their adoption — was in a strong position to enforce its 
will. And annexation was usually a strengthener of cities. The 1902 Con- 
stitution made annexation a subject of judicial rather than political determina- 
tion, but no great change in principle developed. The courts followed the 
same general trend toward "giving the big city the break," and both the 
press and the vested interests adopted the same attitude. The press has fre- 
quently held that annexation was a judicial matter, even when the areas 
affected were in disagreement with the annexation proposals involved. And 
the law has generally continued to favor city organization — now, of course, 
by newer privileges. On occasion, power rates have been cut in half for 
newly-created cities or for county areas scheduled for cityhood. Actually, 
Virginia cities are patterned after the English form as far as independence 
is concerned. 

A prime virtue in the Virginia concept of the independence of cities is, 
of course, the preclusion of overlapping taxes and resulting confusion and 
inconvenience, such as has occurred in Atlanta, for instance, where many 
commercial and other activities are subject not only to municipal regulation, 
but also to that of Fulton and De Kalb Counties, between which the city 
area is divided. It is said that only four instances of such independence exist 
in the United States outside of Virginia, these instances being the cities of 
St. Louis, San Francisco, Denver and Baltimore; and in these four cases such 
independence exists only because the cities have taken over entire counties. 
In other instances, not even that development has produced the same kind of 
independence, because the concept does not exist in the first place. 

The need for some sort of co-operation among the several political divi- 
sions and subdivisions of the Peninsula had long been felt. It was strikingly 
pointed up whenever calamity threatened, calamity always being a unity- 


producer. One such calamity was the yellow fever epidemic of 1855, whose 
devastation on the Peninsula was sufficient to place health problems at the 
forefront in the minds of local leaders in all sections and districts. It was not 
until 1909 that Dr. Walter Reed's discovery of the role of the mosquito in 
the spread of disease pointed challengingly to the necessity of sanitation in 
the interests of health and well-being. As late as 1923 the state had as many 
as 3,611 cases of malaria, 45 of which were fatal. Such disturbing conditions 
led to ever greater co-operation of federal, state and local forces. As a result, 
the Aedes aegypti. or yellow fever mosquito, was practically eliminated and 
the plague itself stamped out. 

To further such ends, improved drainage in Elizabeth City County was 
most important. The area was barely above sea-level and practically without 
fresh-water streams of any size from which even a decent water supply was 
to be obtained. Development of sizeable supplies from surface water was 
impossible, although limited water supplies were available from smaller 
streams. The development of large reservoirs, it was known, would greatly 
improve the situation; but the political and financial hurdles to be sur- 
mounted were numerous and often discouraging. Eventually, but only after 
a terrific struggle, the Newport News Waterworks Commission was estab- 
lished to provide filtered and chlorinated surface water for the entire area. 
The prominence of Federal Government installations at the Peninsula's tip 
resulted also in the establishment of several government water systems for 
use by its own facilities. Such supplies furnish water for Langley Field and 
Fort Monroe. Large supplies of water for what was formerly Elizabeth City 
County come now from the Chickahominy River, at the western boundary 
of James City County. 

The industrial importance of the Peninsula in wartime was another factor 
which pointed the need of water purification and many other changes. The 
vast influx of population during the two world wars and the Korean War, 
in fact, drained the Peninsula's resources. Particularly for Elizabeth City 
County, a tremendous sanitation problem arose in 1942. The county was 
literally smothered by the arrival of thousands and tens of thousands of war 
workers who had to be fed, clothed and housed, many of them with families 
of varying sizes. Three thousand new housing units quickly arose to meet the 
emergency. Applications for help were filed somewhat in advance with the 
FWA, as a result of which the establishment of a new incinerator for 
garbage disposal was made possible in greatly reduced time, even though 
wartime restrictions had cut down on the original plan. For the emergency, 
a land-fill type of disposal plan was adopted. Sanitary land-fills were almost 
unknown in the United States prior to World War II, although they had 
been used for many years by the English, who referred to them as "controlled 
tipping." Elizabeth City County had 134,000 cubic yards of garbage and 


trash in a ten-acre tract purchased for it by the FWA. Trenches 8 feet wide 
and 4 to 9 feet deep were dug, with a 4-foot space between trenches. The 
second was not dug until the first had been compacted and covered. Begin- 
ning parallel to a road built for the purpose, this Virginia land-fill was 
extended trench by trench, with an upward grade of 30 degrees, to the 
extreme limit of the tract. A gradient run-off of water was thus provided 
from the fill operation, and the method took care of the emergency over a 
two-year period. 

More than 70 per cent of the FWA money obtained went into improve- 
ment of drainage and ditching. State aid of 25 per cent was also available, 
not to exceed $10,000 annually. Thousands of feet of ditches were dug. 
Old ditches were cleaned. Many were regraded. The Army put men to work 
in the marshlands, bombarding thousands of acres with larvicides and germ- 
killers. This work was heavily carried out in both Elizabeth City and York 
Counties, which were adjacent to Langley Field, and the aerial spraying 
program was dovetailed with ground work on the Peninsula by control com- 
missions working in Elizabeth City County, Newport News, Warwick County 
and Hampton, with both United States and Virginia State representatives 
serving on the several commissions established. 

The Hampton Roads Sanitation District, operating from Newport News 
Creek Boat Harbor, now serves not only Newport News proper, but con- 
gested areas in the City of Hampton; and before Warwick County was a part 
of Newport News, it came within the scope of that organization's services. 
Four Federal facilities in Hampton are now served by Federally-owned plants 
— Fort Monroe, Langley Field Air Force Base and Aeronautical Laboratory, 
the National Soldiers' Home and the Kecoughtan Veterans' Hospital. 

In other words, the days of water supply from brackish wells and the 
open dumping of sewage in vacant lots is at an end. Yellow fever is elim- 
inated. Other diseases are under control. And the entire program of health, 
sanitation and good drinking water is a result of co-operation of a high 
order of effectiveness — some of it resulting, it is true, from the enforced 
circumstances of war and catastrophe, but all of it with continuing usefulness 
and value. 

Wartime growth was to a degree transitory, but much of it became 
permanent. Many who came to serve in time of need stayed to cast their 
lot with the new industries of the Lower Peninsula. In 1930 Elizabeth City 
County had a population of 19,835; Hampton, 6,382. By 1940, the county 
had 32,283; the city, 5,898. The 1950 figures stood at 55,028 and 5,966 for 
county and city respectively — a combined total of 60,994. The county in 1950 
had 15,425 dwelling units; the city, 1,977. The consolidation of July 1, 1952, 
one of the results of co-operation among communities, brought these popula- 
tions within a single governmental system. The merged city has its own 


Planning Commission, Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations — now 
unified for the whole broad area. 

Those who had twice opposed entry into Newport News were able to 
form their own independent city in 1952 on the basis of a real people's 
movement. Warwick County at the same time became an independent city, 
although it continued as such for only five years before deciding to throw 
in its political lot with Newport News. But the creation, in 1952, of two 
new cities — Warwick and Hampton — attracted wide attention throughout 
Virginia and beyond the state's borders. For these actions meant that the 
Lower Peninsula was destined to take an ever-increasing role in the economy 
of the nation as a whole. When a three-way consolidation of Hampton along 
with Newport News and Warwick was under consideration, the name of 
"Hampton Roads" was being considered for the proposed new city. But 
neither the city nor the name ever became a reality — the city, because the 
people of Hampton opposed it; the name, because Norfolk and Portsmouth 
put up objections. 

The motives for creation of the cities of Hampton and Warwick in 1952 
were almost identical — the desire for exercise of the right of self-determina- 
tion and protection against annexation. Warwick came into being by special 
charter provision. But Hampton was established a first-class city by authority 
of the consolidation act of 1950 by the General Assembly. Despite the 
variance of method, the resulting forms of government were very similar. 
An election had already been ordered by the court on the subject of in- 
corporating a first-class city embracing Hampton, Elizabeth City County and 
the Town of Phoebus at the time when the governing bodies of city, county 
and town concurred in the consolidation agreement. A court order then made 
a second election unnecessary. Endorsement of the merger plan was unanimous 
in Elizabeth City County, and a majority in the Town of Phoebus approved it, 
the main opposition coming from the small area which was formerly the 
second-class city of Hampton. County officers were retained, and provision 
was made to retain the town's elected officers, with the former Hampton's 
assistant treasurer and commissioner of revenue serving with the authority of 
deputies. The school boards of all three were combined. 

The major provisions controlling creation of first- and second-class cities 
in Virginia have been the same since 1902, when the present Constitution 
came into being. A first-class city must have a population of 10,000 or more 
or embrace an area which by consolidation will have 10,000. Court systems 
and plans for city officers may differ, though the 1902 Constitution requires 
that every county and city shall have a judge of the Court of Record, a clerk 
of the same court, an attorney for the Commonwealth, a sheriff or sergeant, 
a commissioner of revenue and a treasurer. First- and second-class cities are 
equal in governmental powers. Both are separate and distinct from the coun- 



ties surrounding them. Both have the same officers required of a county, 
with the smgle exception of the county surveyor. And both have what the 
Constitution requires of every county — an Electoral Board and a School Board. 
With one or two exceptions, every city of either class is, within itself, a 
separate school division. 

The spirit of merger and consolidation extended beyond the political 
sphere. In 1944 the Virginia Transit Company, operating the Richmond 

(Courtesy Va. Peninsula Ass'n of Commerce) 

Street cars and buses, had taken over the Virginia Electric and Power Com- 
pany's transit system, which had been independent prior to that time. The 
purchase of 163 new buses was effected — which meant replacement of more 
than 70 per cent of the fleet — at a cost of $2,52.3,639.96. New bus routes 
were planned, and buses replaced the outmoded "street cars" of old. In the 
Peninsula that development took place in 1945 and 1946. By 1947 Richmond's 
trolley tracks were made obsolete and a new bus system established in that 
city, and in the same year the disappearance of the street car was celebrated 
in a giant September parade of new buses through Norfolk's streets. The 
same development took place concurrently in Portsmouth. 

The communities of Phoebus and Buckroe Beach, along the Chesapeake 
Bay side of the Lower Peninsula which also figured in the Hampton-Elizabeth 


City County consolidation of 1952, were quieter areas wliich naturally fitted 
into the merger scheme. Phoebus lies between Mill Creek and Hampton, with 
Old Point Comfort beyond it, across Mill Creek, and the Veterans' Admin- 
istration center on its western side. Buckroe Beach lies to north-northeast of 
Fort Monroe, sprawling along the Chesapeake. 

After the War between the States, Buckroe Beach consisted mainly of 
fishing camps, summer houses built of driftwood, and a summer inn. In 1896 
an amusement park came, as did also a dance pavilion, the Buckroe Hotel and 
a post office. The beach was then for a decade or more a fashionable upper- 
class resort. Fine homes arose, and were occupied by Senators, generals and 
socialites. Severe storms wrought havoc in the 1920s and 1930s, and were 
climaxed by the terrific 1933 hurricane which produced such terrible destruc- 
tion along the Atlantic coast. Buckroe now has a population of about 3,500, 
with numerous tourist homes and businesses, including supermarket and 
publishing facilities. The beach is shallow and safe. As a part of the enlarged 
City of Hampton, the Buckroe Beach community has great expectations. 

Hampton's first mayor under the first-class city provision of 1952 was 
James G. Crenshaw, who had been a member of the Elizabeth City County 
Board of Supervisors from 1935 and chairman of that board after 1948. 
As an indication of the colossal land area covered in the merger, the second- 
class city of Hampton, consisting of about one square mile, grew as a first- 
class city to 57 square miles of land area plus an additional water area of 
15 square miles. About half of the land area is forested, which means that 
Hampton and Warwick were two cities which, contrary to most similar 
instances, were created with sufficient area to allow for growth for genera- 
tions to come without need of further territorial expansion. The area of each 
of these new cities exceeds that of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Milwaukee or Buffalo. 
The land area of present-day Hampton is about twice that of Norfolk. Under 
the new plan, Hampton maintains its own roads, regulates traffic and bus 
schedules, and is enabled to spend much more money on highway im- 

In the present Hampton, fishing is important to commerce. There are 
numerous seafood canning and packing houses. Minerals include sand, gravel 
and clay. Other industries are lumbering and the production of iron castings, 
millwork, boxes, barrels, furniture, building blocks, and radio and television 
parts. Boat repairing is an important enterprise. Many Hampton citizens 
are employed in the nearby Newport News shipyards, as well as in other 
peninsular industries. 

Culturally Hampton has also grown. There are amateur dramatic groups, 
including the Hampton Little Theatre, which has regularly produced plays 
since 1936, and the Arena Theatre, which operates in the summer months at 
the Hotel Chamberlin, situated at Old Point Comfort. The hotel has long 



been distinguished as a resort and convention center. Through World War II 
it was operated by the Navy for its officers in the service but in March, 1947, 
it was resold to civilian interests. It now serves as a resort hotel for the 
general public. 

Lectures, concerts and art exhibitions are regular occurrences in Hampton, 
which has its own orchestra and choral society. Summer band concerts at 

(Courtesy Va. Penimula Ass'n of Commerce) 


Fort Monroe are open to the public. The Hampton Yacht Club, a rendezvous 
for yachts to and from Florida, is the scene of annual regattas held each 
July 4 weekend. On Route 60, between Hampton and Phoebus, is the Hampton 
Roads Golf and County Club, with its excellent 18-hole golf course. Parks 
and playgrounds, all carefully supervised, offer recreational facilities for the 
people, and there are many schools, churches. Scout groups, civic organiza- 
tions and 4-H Clubs. Swimming, fishing, deep-sea fishing and other water 
sports are widely offered, and the surrounding waters abound in fish, crabs 
and clams. Chesapeake Bay yields about four times as many oysters as are 
to be found in all the other oystering places along the coast. A National 
Seafood Festival is held here each year, and September always has its parade, 
water carnival and related events in Hampton. Football, baseball, basketball, 
Softball and bowling are sports widely played and enjoyed. 


Hampton has one very unusual cultural institution which merits special 
mention — Hampton Institute. It has already been related that many former 
slaves who escaped from their owners durmg the "War between the States 
gained admittance to Fort Monroe, where General Butler held them as "contra- 
band of war," refusing to return them to their owners. During the war, 
those who did not serve in a military capacity were put to work, if they 
were sufficiently able-bodied, as a part of Union policy. After the conclusion 
of hostilities they were thrown upon their own resources, and, having no 
better place to go, many settled in the region nearest the fort. Sometimes 
they were helpless and penniless without the help of their erstwhile masters, 
and it behooved the community to do something in their behalf. 

It was in April, 1868, that the effort started in earnest to help these former 
slaves solve their problems. The so-called Freedmen's Bureau assigned Samuel 
Chapman Armstrong, a 27-year-old brevet brigadier general and son of mis- 
sionary parents, to the task. He thereupon founded, with the aid of the 
American Missionary Association, a school for the training of selected young 
men and women of the Negro race "who should go out and teach and lead 
their people, first by example . . . and in this way build up an industrial 
system for the sake, not only of self-support and intelligent labor, but also for 
the sake of character." The first cards of admission to be issued declared 
the requisites for admission to be "sound health, good character, age not 
under 14 nor over 25, ability to read and write intelligibly, knowledge of 
arithmetic through long division, and the intention to remain through the 
whole three-year course and to become a teacher." 

Hampton Institute thus gained its start with two teachers, fifteen stu- 
dents, little money or equipment, and deep and abiding faith in the principles 
of "learning by doing" and "education for life." Chief support came from 
philanthropic and religious groups and federal land grant funds, which were 
available between 1872 and 1920. Some other sources of income appeared 
as time went on. In 1878 a group of Indians was sent to Hampton Institute 
to receive their educations with the aid of federal funds provided for the 
purpose. The appropriations continued until 1912, and even though they were 
not available thereafter the Indians stayed until 1923. Meanwhile, numerous 
Indian institutions of learning had sprung up elsewhere, with the result that 
Hampton's Indians for the most part left to attend other schools. 

The death of General Armstrong in 1893 was a shock to the Institute, 
but the Rev. Hollis B. Frissell continued his work. In the early 1920s the 
school offered courses leading to the Bachelor of Science degree, and grad- 
ually dropped its elementary and secondary courses. The campus of seventy- 
four acres lies along the waterfront, and is dotted with about 150 buildings 
which house libraries, laboratories and other educational activities. In addi- 
tion there is a large football stadium. The school is affiliated with the United 


Negro College Fund, and receives support currently from endowments, stu- 
dent fees and contributions. It now offers courses in business, home economics, 
nursing, teacher education and technology. Its scope is national and inter- 
national — not merely regional. It is situated just outside of Newport News, 
in the former Elizabeth City County portion of Hampton, and is one of 
the largest and foremost colleges for Negroes in the United States. Its 
numerous cultural programs are open to the public, and its museum, with 
unusual African and Indian collections, inspires wide admiration. 

Like the other communities of the Lower Peninsula, Hampton gave its 
best to the general welfare in two world wars. Six Hampton and Elizabeth 
City County churches reported 206 men in the Army in World War I, 26 in 
the Navy, and 2 in the Marine Corps. The churches were St. John's Episcopal, 
Hampton Presbyterian, the First Methodist, East Hampton Methodist, Phoebus 
Presbyterian and Immanuel Episcopal of Phoebus. In the three drafts of that 
war, 4,561 men were registered in Elizabeth City County and 486 were ac- 
cepted at camp. There were no volunteer units, nor was there a Home Guard. 
Liberty Loans were heavily subscribed, the four loans having brought in 
subscriptions of $2,100,150 from 10,983 subscribers. The quota was $2,- 
084,250. Women's work was successful. Booths for war aid were set up in 
banks and other public places. Four-minute speeches were made in schools. 
War Savings Stamps were sold to the tune of $96,720 in Hampton, $17,065 
in Phoebus and $22,060 in Fort Monroe, while Thrift Stamps were taken 
to the extent of $11,832.50 in Hampton, $2,021 in Phoebus and $2,827.50 in 
Fort Monroe. There were wheatless and meatless days here, as elsewhere, 
and the ice famine of 1918 produced a special hazard. Soft drinks were 
prohibited to preserve ice. In the rural districts, crops increased as a result 
of shortages and public education. The Hampton Women's Service League 
performed valuable service, including hospital visits by committees of women 
to cheer and help the wounded. 

World War II produced the same spirit of devotion to a cause, though 
the work involved struggle against the same kind of difficult conditions, 
sometimes even more baffling and discouraging than those of the earlier war. 
Newport News shipyards and embarkation activities had grown on an ever 
more expansive scale, and the problems of departing and returning soldiers 
were in themselves a challenge. Many were treated to the blessings of 
Virginia hospitality, and some still refer lovingly to their "Virginia families" 
though they live in regions far removed. 

Some, of course, never returned, having made the supreme sacrifice in 
the course of duty. A compilation of the war dead from Hampton City 
after World War II showed that the following had lost their lives in the 
course of service- 


From Hampton City (the former second-class city) — 
Anderson, Van B., Capt., A. 
Androkovich, Stephen Andrew, T/Sgt., A. Motiier, Mrs. S. A. Andro- 

Bailey, James, Cpl., A. Sister, Miss Clarstine Bailey 
Bradley, Elmer C, Jr., Pvt., A. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Bradley 
Campbell, Lawrence M., Pfc, A. Mother, Mrs. Mary F. Campbell 

(Also Warwick County) 
Carter, Jimmy Smith, FO, A. Mother, Mrs. Frances R. Carter 
Cate, Richard Evans, S/Sgt., A. Mother, Mrs. Hazel Cate 
Collins, Marshall L., T/3, A. Mother, Mrs. Edith F. Collins 
Davenport, John B., Jr., Lt. Col., A. Father, John B. Davenport 
Davis, Joel Archibald, Jr., Lt. (jg), N. Wife, Mrs. Joel Archibald Davis, 

Dudley, Robert Powell, Lt., A. Wife, Mrs. Robert Powell Dudley 

(Also Warwick County) 

Eyre, Lloyd, Capt., A. Wife, Mrs. Isabella B. Eyre 

GoLBERDiNG, Daniel Anthony. (See Newport News City) 

Gummere, Otto O., Pvt., A. Mother, Mrs. Anna Gummere 

Hedden, Donald Earle, 2nd Lt., A. Father, Clarence Earle Hedden 

Hedden, Herbert Brewster, Lt., A. Father, Clarence Earle Hedden 

Hendricks, Wilford W. (See Richmond City) 

Henze, Richard A., Sgt., A. 

Holland, Gordon Lee, 1st Lt., A. Father, Reginald D. Holland 

(Also Surry County) 

Johnson, Hollis Frissell, Pfc, A. Wife, Mrs. Carrie Louise Johnson 

Jones, James W., Sr., Pvt., A. Wife, Mrs. Gladys E. Jones 

Kostyal, Philip Lee, Ens., N. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stuart J. Kostyal 

Lawrence, Hurley B., Pfc, A. Wife, Mrs. Ruby Hunsuckel Lawrence, 

R. F. D. 2 
Love, Jack T., Pvt., A. Wife, Mrs. Carrie M. Love 
Lyon, Donald R., Col., A. Wife, Mrs. Iris Joan Lyon 
McLeod, Theodore W., Pvt., A. Mother, Mrs. Sadie McLeod 
McPhail, William Warner, S/Sgt., A. Mother, Mrs. Coeina D. McPhail 
Mason, Elvin Roy, RM3c, N. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Mason 
Mason, John William, EM2c, N. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Mason 
Massenburg, George Alvin, Jr., Ens., N. Parents, Captain and Mrs. G. A. 

Mauro, Stanley Allen, Pvt., A. Parents, Lt. Col. and Mrs. J. A. Mauro 
Melson, Melvin M., Pfc, A. Mother, Mrs. Daisy M. Melson, R. F. D. 3 
Myers, Wilbert J., Pfc, A. 


Nottingham, James Charles, Pvt., A. Mother, Mrs. Kathleen M. Not- 
PoTviN, Arthur E., S/Sgt., A. Father, A. J. Potvin 
PuGH, Ernest Louis, Sgt., A. Wife, Mrs. Dorothy Pugh 

(Also Gloucester County) 
Rector, Earl H., Cpl., M. Mother, Mrs. Etta D. Rector 
Reynolds, Ollie C, Pfc, A. Mother, Mrs. Malinda J. Reynolds Price 
Rogers, James P., 1st Lt., A. Wife, Mrs. Betty M. Rogers 
RossER, Reginald T., Cpl., A. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jasper O. Rosser 
Self, Cecil Henry, Pvt., M. Mother, Mrs. Nora Self 
Sheffield, Clifford M., Pvt., A. Mother, Mrs. Hilda Sheffield 
Shockley, Aubrey Kenneth, Pvt., A. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. K. G. 

Sinclair, Carroll F., 1st Lt., A. Wife, Mrs. Audrey Sinclair, 1st Lt., 

Nurses' Corps 
Smith, Emanuel, Pvt., A. Wife, Mrs. Sadie Smith, R. F. D. 2 

(Also York County) 
Smith, William Donaldson, PhM2c, N. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert 

Ramsey Smith 
Spencer, Lewis F., Pvt., A. Wife, Mrs. Lucille Brown Spencer, R. F. D. 3 
Thompson, Harry Pleasant, Pfc, A. Mother, Mrs. Mary E. Thompson 
Thompson, Raymond, Pfc, M. Mother, Mrs. Lily M. Campbell 
Vaughan, Lockie Lee, Pfc, A. Father, Robert Vaughan 
Venable, Hoge Cralle, Jr., SK2c, N. Mother, Mrs. Elizabeth S. Kirtley 

(Also Newport News City and Richmond City) 
VoLKMER, William Westwood, Sgt., A. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. William 

P. Volkmer 
Watkins, Kenneth F., T/5, A. Mother, Mrs. Ada Watkins 
WiLi, Albert Thomas, WO, N. Wife, Mrs. Florence Joan Wili 
Winder, Alonzo Lee, 2nd Lt., A. Sister, Mrs. Thelma Winder Lewis 
WiNTON, Merbell C, T/5, a. Wife, Mrs. Rebecca Winton 
Wood, Neil S., Capt., A. Wife, Mrs. Martha E. Wood 
Wyche, Richard A., Cpl. Mother, Mrs. Lucy J. Wyche 

From former Elizabeth City County — 
AcKERLY, Horace R., M/Sgt., A. 

Baird, John E., S/Sgt., A. Wife, Mrs. MoUie A. Baird, Phoebus 
Basham, Ulva, Sgt., A. 
Booth, Benjamin F., T/Sgt., A. 
Bowen, John D., 1st Lt., A. 

Bradley, James T., S/Sgt., A. Wife, Mrs. Ruth M. Bradley, Phoebus 
Brown, Herman W., 1st Sgt., A. 


Cloud, Eugene H., Maj., A. 

Cooper, Warren H., 2nd Lt., A. 

CouGHLiN, John J., Capt., A. 

Daniels, Charles S., Pfc, A. 

Denslow, Guy A., Jr., Pvt., A. 

Dickinson, Jesse S., Pfc, A. 

Dutton, William Thomas, M/Sgt., A. Wife, Mrs. Violet A. Dutton, Fort 

East, Joe C, Maj., A. 

Edwards, Fred Lee, Sic, N. Father, Frank Edwards, Phoebus 
Efantis, Angelus C, Pvt., A. 

Ferris, John D., Pvt., A. Wife, Mrs. Josephine J. Ferris, Phoebus 
Fluker, John William, TMlc, N. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Robert 

Fluker, Phoebus 
Fowler, James G., Lt., A. Parents, Lt. Col. and Mrs. Henry G. Fowler, 

Fuller, Wendell E., S/Sgt., A. Mother, Mrs. Grace R. Fuller, Phoebus 
Greene, Carl F., Col., A. 

Hall, Dudley James, QM3c, N. Mother, Mrs. Annie Harris Hall, Phoebus 
Harvell, William H., Pfc, A. 
Hazlett, George W., Maj., A. 
Howell, William R., Pfc, A. 
Jenkins, Arthur Guy, Jr., 2nd Lt., A. Mother, Mrs. Arthur Guy Jenkins, 

Sr., Phoebus 
Johnson, Willis G., Pvt., A. Mother, Mrs. Jennie Johnson, New Bern, 

North Carolina 
Krogstad, Arnold Norman, Jr., Pfc, A. Parents, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) and 

Mrs. Arnold Norman Krogstad, Miami Beach, Florida 
Lassiter, Randolph M., Pfc, A. Mother, Mrs. Stella B. Lassiter, Buckroe 

Latham, Eugene W., Jr., M/Sgt., A. 
Lohmann, Leroy H., Lt. Col., A. 

Lopez, Humberto M., Pfc, A. Mother, Mrs. May Lopez, Fort Monroe 
McCaffrey, Morris Franklin, RT3c, N. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh J. 

McCaffrey, Buckroe Beach 
(Also Roanoke City) 
McKinstry, Robert L., M/Sgt., A. 
Myers, John W., Pfc, A. 
Parker, Harold V., Pfc, A. 
Reeder, Russell P., Col., A. 

Reuter, George Julius, 1st Lt., A. Mother, Mrs. J. George Reuter, Cleve- 
land, Ohio 


Rhea, John E., Pfc, A. 

Robinson, Charles C, Lt. Col., A. 

Rose, Harry, WO, A. 

Ross, Bennie, Pvt, A. 

RUNEY, Paul E., M/Sgt., A. Wife, Mrs. Katherine A. Runey, Phoebus 

Satterfield, George William, AvC, A. Wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Shackleford 

Satterfield, Phoebus 
Shepherd, William H., Col., A. 
Sherman, Dean, M/Sgt., A. 
Spinks, Marcellus G., Brig. Gen., A. 
Stewart, Leslie A., Sgt., A. 
ToTTEN, James W., Col., A. 
Tyndall, Thurman, CWO, A. 
Worthington, John H., CWO, A. 
Young, Earl R., 1st Sgt, A. 
Zahn, Harry A., Pfc, A. 

References on Chapter VII 

Stuart M. Gibson, "The Tale of Two Cities, Virginia's Youngest and Largest — Warwick and New 
Hampton," Virginia and the Virginia County, October, 1952. 

"Historic Hampton, Virginia, and Adjoining Area ' (map), L. M. Knickerbocker, Prestige Press, Inc., 
Hampton, Va. 

The Commonwealth, The Magazine of Virginia, issues of March 3, May 5, September 9 and Novem- 
ber 11, 1949. 

Julian Houseman, ibid., September, 1949. 

George Carrington Mason, Colonial Churches of Tidewater Virginia, Whittet and Shepperson, 
Richmond, Va., 1945. 

Bishop William Meade, Old Churches and Families of Virginia. 

Publications of the Virginia War History Commission, Second Series, Volume VII, published by 
order of The Executive Committee, State Capitol, Richmond, Va., 1927 ; Arthur Kyle Davis, editor. 
Thomas J. Wertenbaker, Norfolk, Historic Southern Port, Duke University Press, Durham, N. C, 

Arthur K. Davis, Virginia Communities in Wartime. 

John H. Cutchins, History of the Twenty-ninth Division, Philadelphia, 1921. 
Gillie Cary McCabe, The Story of an Old Town, Old Dominion Press, Richmond, Va., 1929. 
History of Hampton and Elizabeth City County, Va., compiled by Lyon G. Tyler, LL.D,, published 
by Board of Supervisors, Elizabeth City County, Va., 1922. 

Economic Data. Elizabeth City County, Va., compiled by Virginia Division of Planning and 
Economic Development, June, 1952. Revised July, 1953. 
Dr. George W. Spicer, Fifteen Years of County Government in Virginia. 

"The Lower Virginia Peninsula," an editorial survey by Industrial Development, published July, 1958. 
Conducted under auspices of the Peninsula Industrial Committee, Newport News, Va. 
Buckroe Beach Guide and Information Digest, Summer Edition, 1951, published with the cooperation 
of Buckroe Beach Civic Association, Home Demonstration Club and Buckroe Beach Women's Club. 
This Is CopeLind Industrial Park, folder issued by Peninsula Industrial Committee, Newport News, Va. 

6 H 389. 

7 H 317. 

Chapter VIII 

Fort Monroe and Langley Field 

By Floyd McKnight 

FROM EARLIEST TIMES, the Lower Peninsula has figured prominently 
as a springboard for military operations and national defense. In 
modern years the role of Fort Monroe and Langley Air Force Base 
has been particularly important. 

Fort Monroe stands on the very site of the first fortifications built by 
English-speaking people in North America. Just 350 years ago the first English 
settlers landed where the present fort stands at the lower end of the Peninsula. 
Since that time the fort has been almost continuously occupied, and has been 
garrisoned longer than any other Army post in the United States. From a 
crude stockade erected for the protection of the early settlers, it has grown 
to be one of the outstanding military installations in this country. 

It was on April 26, 1607, that Captain Christopher Newport sailed into 
Chesapeake Bay with the expedition which he commanded, landing first at 
Cape Henry and then setting out for a detailed examination of the southern 
shores of the bay. After discovering only shoal water between Lynnhaven Bay 
and Willoughby Spit, they turned northward and rowed to a point of land 
near which they found a channel where they sounded twelve fathoms of water. 
It was perhaps suggestive of their feelings that they named this point of land 
""Cape Comfort." Subsequent changes developed this name to "Point Com- 
fort" and eventually "Old Point Comfort" to distinguish it from New Point 
Comfort, at the mouth of Mobjack Bay, twenty miles to the north. 

On April 29 the remaining ships of Newport's expedition were moved 
to Point Comfort, from which place members went to the nearby village of 
Kecoughtan at the invitation of the local Indians. Afterward further ex- 
plorations were made by Sir Christopher Newport's men, who numbered 
about 100, resulting in the first permanent English colony in America at 
Jamestown. One of Newport's party was Captain John Smith, who was 
captured by the Indians and presented to Chief Powhatan but was afterward 
released through the instrumentality of Pocahontas, the Chief's daughter. 
The further story of Captain John Smith's adventures is told elsewhere in 
this work. 



The first actual fort built at Point Comfort was named Fort Algernoun 
in honor of William de Percy, First Lord Algernon, who had come to England 
in 1066 with William the Conqueror. This fort was constructed under the 
direction of Captain John Ratcliff with the aid of a detachment from 
Jamestown, Captain RatclitT had been commander of the pinnace Discovery, 

(U . S. Army Photo — Courtesy Va. Peninsula Ass' >i of Commerce) 

smallest of the three vessels which arrived here in April 1607. At the be- 
ginning Fort Algernoun was but a simple earthwork. Sir Thomas Dale, who 
arrived in I6II to take charge of the colonists, ordered Forts Henry and 
Charles, near Kecoughtan, abandoned so that Fort Algernoun might be 
strengthened to secure protection of the entrance to the James River. At that 
time Captain Davis was placed in command of the fort. 

The existence of the original Fort Algernoun was of relatively brief 
duration. In February or March of 16 12 it was burned to the ground. Captain 
Davis lost no time in undertaking the rebuilding, but was greatly hampered 
by the illness of his men and their lack of provisions. It was not until 1630 
that resources were sufficient to enable the General Assembly to adopt a 


measure for the erection of a new and much more elaborate fort at Point 
Comfort. Completed in 1632, it was of a more permanent character than any 
such structure previously built in Virginia. Only because of lack of main- 
tenance did the new fort gradually fall into a state of decay until in 1665 
it was abandoned and its garrison and ordnance were transferred to James- 

At this juncture, mainly because they were required to pay duties to main- 
tain a fort that was worthless, the ship owners and traders exerted enough 
pressure upon the English authorities for reestablishment of a fort at the 
mouth of the James River. When the King gave orders for the rebuilding 
of the fort. Governor Berkeley reluctantly returned the guns to Point Comfort 
in 1666 despite his opposition to the project. The rebuilding program gained 
impetus when, at about that time, the Dutch entered the James River and 
captured and burned vessels loaded with tobacco. By June, 1667, eight guns 
were mounted, but the work thus begun was destroyed by a hurricane in the 
following August. 

Until 1728 the fortifications at Point Comfort depended upon the gen- 
erosity of the House of Burgesses in providing funds. In 1673, after a 
Dutch man-of-war destroyed a number of vessels in the James River, the 
merchants and ship owners renewed their demand for adequate fortifications, 
but accomplished little because the other colonists objected to the maintenance 
costs. The outbreak of war in Europe in the opening years of the eighteenth 
century and rumors of the approach of the French Fleet, however, caused 
Governor Spottswood to strengthen the fort at Old Point, and by 1711 he had 
serviceable cannon mounted there. But the colonists did not want to spend 
their time and energies on military preparations, and the works again fell 
into decay. 

Spain declared war on England in 1727, and in 1728 work was started 
at Old Point on the most substantial and elaborate fortification built up to 
that time. But the new fort named after George II of England was destroyed 
by a hurricane in 1749- Its commander at that time was Samuel Barron, a 
resident of Mill Creek, father of Commodore James Barron, Sr., senior officer 
of the Virginia State Navy in 1779. The garrison thereafter consisted of one 
man, who was charged with "care of the ruins remaining at Old Point 
Comfort." To relieve his boredom, the caretaker began exhibiting a light at 
night for the benefit of passing ships. In 1802 a lighthouse, which still is in 
operation, was built on the Point. 

Advent of the Revolutionary War revived interest in coastal defense, but 
no significant improvements were made in the old colonial forts. In 1781 
only six guards remained at Old Point Comfort and twelve at Newport News 
to cope with the British, who landed unopposed and set fires at will. 

Construction of more modern fortifications was begun in 1819, and Fort 

Va. 15 


Monroe resulted from plans drawn by Simon Bernard, French military en- 
gineer and former aide-de-camp to Napoleon. These plans in general followed 
the plans of fortifications constructed by General Bernard on the Moselle 
at Toul, France. When Lafayette visited America in 1824, Bernard had 
the pleasure of showing him Fort Monroe, then under construction. Progress 
on the work was slow, however, due primarily to the difficulty of obtaining 
workmen and the outbreak of disease among them. The Corps of Engineers 
reported the project largely completed in 1834. Both the artillery and en- 
gineers worked on the fort in the following years, declaring upon the outbreak 
of the Civil War that it was "in a reasonable state of defense." At the same 
time, work was begun on Fort Calhoun* on Rip-Raps shoal in the middle 
of Hampton Roads about a mile from Old Point Comfort. Before the fort 
could be built, however, an artificial island of stone had to be constructed. 
In March, 1862, the name was changed to Fort Wool in honor of Major 
General Wool, who was then commanding officer at Fort Monroe. Fort Wool 
was intended to figure prominently in Atlantic coastal defenses, but is now 
in a caretaker status. 

Being completely surrounded by a water-filled moat with the gun positions 
on the terreplein, the old fort at Monroe, as it is now known, is the only 
fort of its type in this country maintained in its original form. Hexagonal in 
shape, three of its sides face the waters of Chesapeake Bay and Hampton 
Roads. The walls of the Old Fort rise about twenty-five feet above the flat 
terrain, which has an average elevation of eight feet above sea level, and 
the whole area, inclusive of the most, is approximately 80 acres. 

An act was passed in 1821 by the Virginia Assembly authorizing the 
Governor to deed to the United States "the right of property as well as all 
jurisdiction which this Commonwealth possesses over the land and shoal at 
Old Point Comfort and the Rip-Raps." Certain rights were reserved, one 
of which was the use of the roadway to the dock. Originally, the grant was 
for 250 acres at Old Point and only 15 acres at the Rip-Raps. Fort Monroe 
was afterward further enlarged by hydraulic fill, so that it now covers about 
613 acres. 

In July, 1823, the fort was first occupied by a company of artillery, who 
were transferred from Fort Nelson to guard convicts at work on the con- 
struction of the Old Fort. One-tenth of the entire United States Army and 
one-third of the artillery troops were stationed within the walls of Fort 
Monroe in 1825. It was then the largest garrison in the United States. 

The Secretary of War gave Fort Monroe its official name on February 1, 
1832, directing that "all military posts, designated as cantonments, be here- 
after called forts and that the work at Old Point Comfort be called Fort 

* The names of the two forts are significant in that John C. Calhoun was Secretary of War in 
the cabinet of President James Monroe. 


Monroe and not Fortress Monroe." Before that time it had not received an 
official name, but was called Fortress Monroe in honor of James Monroe, 
fifth President of the United States, who was in office when work was begun 
on the project. 

Although the change of name was official, the old term "Fortress Monroe" 
lingered on. It was the name used by the newspaper correspondents in the 
War between the States. A regular column in the New York Herald and 
other newspapers was headed "News from Fortress Monroe." The term even 
crept into the orders of the War Department. Of two orders issued on the 
same day by Major General Wool in March, 1862, one was dated at "Fort 
Monroe" and the other at "Fortress Monroe." 

On February 3, 1880, the erroneous designation was given new life when 
the name of the post office at Old Point Comfort was changed by the 
United States Post Office Department to "Fortress Monroe." The military 
authorities pointed out in vain that the official name of the fort was "Fort 
Monroe," and that a fortress was a special European type of fortification 
containing a town within its walls. For sixty-one years the fort officially 
named "Fort Monroe" had a post office named "Fortress Monroe." Not until 
November 15, 1941, did the Post Office Department change the name of its 
post office to "Fort Monroe" to agree with the official name of the fort and 
put an end to the confusion. 

Edgar Allan Poe joined the Fort Monroe garrison on December 15, 1828, 
having enlisted in the United States Army under the assumed name of 
Edgar A. Perry on May 26, 1827. The eighteen-year-old poet was destitute 
after having attempted to make a living with his pen for a few months and 
following a violent quarrel with his foster father in March, 1827, when he 
left home. 

Poe was promoted to sergeant major, the highest rank to which an enlisted 
man could attain, on January 1, 1829, but now wanted to attempt once more 
a career as a writer and leave the Army. Just before arriving at Fort Monroe, 
Poe had implored the help of his foster father, John Allan, to whom he 
addressed two more letters, one on December 22, 1828, and one on Feb- 
ruary 4, 1829, in quest of a resumption of civilian life. His foster father 
ignored all three letters, the third of which requested additionally that help 
be given him to get out of the Army so he could enter West Point to become 
an officer. Poe's suggestion was that he would be able to "run through" the 
courses at West Point in six months because of his experience as an enlisted 
man. The same letter told Mr. Allan of his debts. Poe had first been in 
trouble over gambling debts at the University of Virginia, and, expressing 
regret over his "infamous conduct," he pointed out, as a partial excuse, that 
he had never been away from home before. At the close of his letter, he told 


John Allan that if he did not receive an answer he would go into self- 
imposed exile in a foreign land. 

On February 28, 1829, Poe's beloved foster mother died and he returned 
to his home in Richmond at JVIr. Allan's invitation. A partial reconciliation 
took place between the two men, the foster father agreeing to furnish money 
to pay a substitute to complete the balance of Poe's term of enlistment, and 
also promising to assist his adopted son to enter the United States Military 
Academy at West Point. 

On April 15, 1829, Poe was discharged at Fort Monroe, having served 
almost two years of his five-year term of enlistment. Sergeant Samuel 
( "Bully") Graves of Fort Monroe agreed to serve out the balance of Poe's 
enlistment for the sum of |75.00. The officers at Fort Monroe gave Poe 
excellent letters of recommendation. Poe's conduct was described as "un- 
exceptionable" by Lieutenant J. Howard, and Captain H. W. Griswold said 
he was "highly worthy of confidence." The Commanding Officer of Fort 
Monroe, Lieutenant Colonel William J. Worth, recommended Poe for a 
cadetship without hesitation, stating that Poe's education was of "a very high 
order" and that he appeared to be "free of bad habits." 

On July 1, 1830, Poe entered West Point. After eight months, he con- 
trived to get himself expelled. Poe's West Point venture appears to have 
been largely a subterfuge to induce John Allan to help him get out of the 
army. For eighteen months, what Poe actually wanted was to return to 
civilian life and carve out a career as a writer. 

The poems written by Poe brought him world fame and he became one 
of the great literary figures of America. In France and other countries his 
short stories were widely acclaimed. The poet held responsible editorial 
positions in New York, Richmond and Philadelphia, but at the same time, he 
was a moody, unhappy man who sought escape in alcohol, causing much 
suffering for himself as well as those close to him. 

Poe returned to Old Point Comfort to spend a Sunday at the fashionable 
Hygeia Hotel twenty years after his discharge at Fort Monroe. The forty- 
year-old poet must have recalled memories of his youthful days there when 
he heard the bugle calls behind the walls of the fort and the boom of the 
evening gun. On the hotel veranda Poe recited poetry in the moonlight to 
a group of friends, the waters of Hampton Roads sparkling in the background. 
"Annabel Lee," "The Raven" and the weird and mystic "Ulalume" were 
presented. He told his listeners that the last stanza of "Ulalume" might not 
be intelligible to them as he scarcely understood it himself! 

Appreciation of this obscure poem was expressed by a young girl who 
admired Poe — Miss Susan Ingram, of Norfolk. She was surprised the next 
day to receive from the poet a manuscript copy of "Ulalume," written in 
his painstaking script on five sheets of paper pasted together to form a scroll, 


accompanied by a most gracious note. Poe's last taste of unclouded happiness 
may well have been this enchanted evening at Old Point Comfort, Sunday, 
September 9, 1849, for less than a month later, on October 3, he was picked 
up in the streets of Baltimore in a dying condition. "God help my poor soul!" 
were the last words of Edgar Allan Poe, uttered in a delirium before he 
died on October 7. 

In the Fort Monroe Casemate Museum, the Edgar Allan Poe Exhibit 
contains two original pictures of the poet, one by Shirley S. Hogge showing 
the young soldier leaning against the carriage of a cannon rereading a letter 
to his foster father, and the other by Allan Jones showing Poe on the veranda 
of the Hygeia Hotel reciting to his friends in the moonlight. 

Robert E. Lee reported for duty at Fort Monroe on May 7, 1831. He 
was then a young lieutenant of engineers who had graduated from West 
Point in 1829 and had completed his first assignment in the United States 
Army at Cockspur Island near Savannah, Georgia. At that time the main 
part of the fort had been finished and garrisoned, but construction had not 
yet begun on the outworks and approaches. Captain Andrew Talcott, Lee's 
superior officer, was absent much of the time, which left the young lieutenant 
in virtual charge of the construction program. Lee supervised the building 
of the famous old Water Battery (no longer in existence), put the finishing 
touches on the moat and designed some wharves and buildings. The con- 
struction of the foundation of the Rip-Raps (later known as Fort Wool) 
was also supervised by young Lee, who lived on this island for several 
months. Together with Fort Monroe, the island fort controlled the channel 
from Chesapeake Bay into Hampton Roads. 

Less than two months after his arrival at Fort Monroe, Lee was married. 
The wedding took place at Arlington, Virginia, the home of his bride, Mary 
Anne Randolph Custis, on June 30, 1831. Mrs. Lee's father was George 
Washington Parke Custis, a stepson of George Washington. Lieutenant and 
Mrs. Lee arrived at Fort Monroe in August, 1831, and when their first child 
was born there on September 16, 1832, they named him George Washington 
Custis Lee. 

It is known that one of the happiest periods in Lee's life was his tour 
of duty at Fort Monroe. He admired and respected his chief, Captain 
Talcott, and enjoyed domestic and social life at the fort. His talents as an 
educator found a constructive outlet in his constant associations with young 
officers, and friendships formed with military and civilian leaders at the first 
Hygeia Hotel, just outside the fort's main gate, were doubtless among the 
considerations causing Lee to write to a close friend that 'Fort Monroe is 
a post by no means to be despised." He was stationed here from May, 1831, 
to November, 1834. Here he was closely associated with men who were his 
friends and later his brother-officers — for instance, Joseph E. Johnston, Ben- 


jamin Huger and James Barnes. Thirty years later two of these men were 
Confederate generals serving with him; the third, James Barnes, was a Union 
general. In his administrative work at the fort, Lee was a careful and 
economical planner, bargaining closely for schooner hire and seeking the 
most favorable terms and times when awarding contracts. When stone was 
needed for the work at Fort Monroe, he took rough hewings from the Rip- 
Raps and dressed them, with resultant expenditures of about half what the 
material would have cost elsewhere. A Fort Monroe Casemate Museum 
portrait of Lee shows him in dress uniform as a young lieutenant of en- 
gineers — ruddy-complexioned, dark-haired, with sideburns, but without beard 
or moustache. At the museum are also letters written by him while he was 
stationed at Fort Monroe, as well as an engineering drawing of the fort 
made by him in 1832. 

Fort Monroe's role in historic events of America has been astoundingly 
all-inclusive. After Black Hawk's War, Black Hawk himself and several other 
chiefs were captured and brought here as hostages. Much of Old Point 
Comfort's prestige as a tourist resort dates from that time, when many flocked 
to the fort to see the Indians. Black Hawk acquired fame by his stubborn 
refusal to recognize the treaty by which his people, the Sauks and the Foxes, 
ceded all their land east of the Mississippi to the white man. He contended 
that Jumping Fish and other chiefs who signed the treaty had no authority 
to sell the land, and had done so because they were drunk. Black Hawk 
held to his own village of Saukenuk (now Rock Island, Illinois), even 
after white people had ploughed up the cornfields of his people. When 
finally menaced by United States troops, he reluctantly moved to the farther 
side of the Mississippi River. Brooding over the loss of his village, he fell 
under the influence of White Cloud, an Indian prophet, whose seership was 
perhaps clouded by tribal patriotism when he prophesied that Black Hawk 
would lead his people back across the Great River, and that the white people 
would not resist. He even predicted that the other Indians would help and 
that the British would send help from Canada. When Black Hawk crossed the 
river in April, 1832, with 200 warriors and their families, tragedy met their 

With United States regulars converging upon his band, the chieftain sent 
out a flag of truce, only to find that the undisciplined volunteers shot down 
the truce party. The outraged Indians thereupon threw themselves upon the 
volunteers and drove them from the field, beginning what went down in the 
history books as the Black Hawk War. Although they fought a brilliant 
compaign, the Indians were finally crushed at the battle of Bad Axe River 
in Wisconsin on August 2, 1832. The white troops, aided by a gunboat, on 
that occasion shot down all Indians, including women and children. 

For some months a prisoner at St. Louis, Black Hawk was then brought 


to Fort Monroe along with some of his head men. Here escape would be more 
difficult. But the more important reason for bringing them here was to let 
them see for themselves the density of population in the East and the firm 
control which the white men had already established in this part of the 
continent. With Black Hawk at Fort Monroe were the prophet White Cloud 
and Black Hawk's own eldest son, Whirling Thunder. Colonel Abraham 
Eustis, post commander at the fort, was instructed to deal leniently with 
them. The officers' wives gave them presents. Noted painters came to paint 
their portraits. The public flocked to the Point to see the "Lions of the West." 
Of his stay at the fort, Black Hawk himself said: 

The war chief [Colonel Eustis] met us on our arrival, and shook hands, 
and appeared glad to see me. He treated us with great friendship, and talked 
to me frequently. Previous to our leaving this fort, he gave us a feast, and 
made us some presents, which I intend to keep for his sake. He is a very good 
man, and a great brave! I was sorry to leave him, although I was going to 
return to my people, because he had treated me like a brother, during all the 
time I remained with him. 

The imprisonment of the Indians continued from April 26, 1833, to 
June 6, 1833, at Fort Monroe. Before leaving, Black Hawk made a farewell 
speech to Colonel Eustis: 

Brother, I have come, on my part, and in behalf of my companions, to 
bid you farewell. Our great father [President Andrew Jackson] has at length 
been pleased to permit us to return to our hunting-grounds. We have buried 
the tomahawk, and the sound of the rifle will hereafter only bring death to 
the deer and the buffalo. Brother, you have treated the red men very kindly. 
Your squaws have made them presents, and you have given them plenty to 
eat and drink. The memory of your friendship will remain till the Great 
Spirit says it is time for Black Hawk to sing his death song. Brother, your 
houses are as numerous as the leaves upon the trees, and your warriors like 
the sands upon the shore of the big lake [Chesapeake Bay and Hampton 
Roads] that rolls before us. The red man has but few houses, and few war- 
riors, but the red man has a heart that throbs as warmly as the heart of his 
white brother. The Great Spirit has given us our hunting-grounds, and the 
skin of the deer which we kill there is his favorite, for the color is white, 
and this is the emblem of peace. This hunting dress and these feathers of the 
eagle are white. Accept them, my brother ... as a memorial of Black Hawk. 
When he is far away this will serve to remind you of him. May the Great 
Spirit bless you and your children. Farewell. 

During their stay in the East, the Indians were taken on a tour of the 
large cities. At the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, they saw the warship Delaware, 
and Black Hawk said he would like to shake hands with the man who had 
built this 'big canoe." In Norfolk dense crowds blocked the street in front 


of the Exchange Hotel to see them, and both Black Hawk and White Cloud 
spoke from the balcony. Everywhere the Indians were received by public 
officials and lionized by their "squaws." In New York they actually saw a 
man get into a balloon and rise so high in the air that he could no longer 
be seen. One of the young Indians asked the prophet White Cloud if the 
man was going up to see the Great Spirit. 

Back at home, Black Hawk dictated his autobiography to Antoine Le 
Claire, United States Indian interpreter, who translated the story for a 
Virginia journalist named John B. Patterson, who wrote it in English. The 
book was published in 1833. Black Hawk lived peacefully in Iowa until his 
death in 1838. 

A more than ordinarily interesting sidelight of the Black Hawk episode 
was the identity of Black Hawk's captor. He was given into the custody of 
a young lieutenant of the United States Army at Bad Axe, who took him 
down the Mississippi River to St. Louis. That lieutenant was none other 
than Jefferson Davis, later President of the Confederate States of America, 
who himself was a prisoner at Fort Monroe after the War between the States 
thirty-three years later! At Galena, Illinois, when the steamer aboard which 
Black Hawk was a prisoner was confronted by gaping crowds, Davis refused 
to let them violate the Indian chief's privacy. Black Hawk wrote of that event, 
"The War chief would not permit them to enter the apartment where we 
were — knowing, from what his own feelings would have been, if he had been 
placed in a similar situation, that we did not wish to have a gaping crowd 
around us." 

At the Casemate Museum is a fine portrait of Black Hawk — a facsimile 
of a painting by Charles Bird King. It was given to the museum by Pro- 
fessor Donald Jackson, of the University of Illinois, an authority on Black 
Hawk. In 1955 Jackson published a new edition of the original autobiography, 
which came out under the University of Illinois Press imprint. 

In 1828, the year in which Poe came to Fort Monroe and four years 
before the Black Hawk War, Jefferson Davis was graduated from the United 
States Military Academy at West Point, and became a lieutenant of infantry 
in the wilds of Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. It was while he was so engaged 
that he was given custody of Black Hawk, whom he took as a prisoner to 
St. Louis before the chieftain was brought to Fort Monroe. Wounded in the 
Mexican War, Davis served as United States Senator from 1847 to 1851, 
then during the administration of President Frankhn Pierce (1853-1857) 
was Secretary of War of the United States. While heading the War De- 
partment, he strengthened the army, instituting reforms and introducing new 
weapons. He also made surveys of the Far West for future railroad routes, 
some of which were later adopted. In 1857 he returned to the Senate, re- 


signing only in 1861, when his own state of Mississippi seceded from the 

His expectation was to serve as an officer in the army of the newly estab- 
lished Confederacy of the South, but to his surprise he was elected its 
President on February 9, 1861. His strong connection with Virginia began 
when this State entered the Confederacy and the Confederate capital moved 
northward from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond. Four years later, after 
that bitterest and most deadly of American wars. President Davis heard 
while attending church services at St. Paul's Church, Richmond, on Sunday, 
April 2, 1865, that Petersburg was to be evacuated on order from General 
Lee. He immediately moved the Confederate Government to Danville, Vir- 
ginia, 120 miles from Richmond. After the surrender at Appomattox on 
April 9, Davis intended to take the Confederacy to Texas, but was captured 
en route to that state near Irwinville, Georgia, early on the morning of 
May 10, 1865. 

Learning at that time that he was accused of plotting the death of 
President Lincoln — a charge from which he was later exonerated — Davis was 
taken to Fort Monroe and imprisoned in a hastily improvised cell in Casemate 
No. 2 on May 22, 1865. On the following day he was shackled with ankle 
irons at the instigation of Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War. 
When the shackling was being carried out, Davis knocked down the black- 
smith who brought the irons. Tragedy was averted by the quick action of 
Captain Jerome Titlow, Third Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, who stopped the 
blacksmith from returning the attack with his uplifted hammer. A day later 
Colonel John J. Craven, chief medical officer at the fort, visited the prisoner 
and immediately recommended removal of the ankle irons. No action was 
taken, however, until news of the shackling leaked out and enraged in- 
fluential people in the North to the point that the Secretary of War in 
Washington ordered the irons removed on May 28. Once removed, they 
were never reapplied. 

Davis spent four and one-half months in the casemate cell, then was 
moved to Carroll Hall, a brick building which then stood in the northwest 
bastion of the fort, on the site of the present guardhouse. In due course the 
Bureau of Military Investigation in Washington discovered that Davis was 
in no way implicated in the assassination of Lincoln, an accusation that had 
been faked by Sanford Conover, termed "a master perjurer," who was ar- 
rested and sentenced to the penitentiary. In June, 1866, Colonel Craven, who 
had returned to his home in Newark, New Jersey, published a sympathetic 
book. Prison Life of Jefferson Davis, which had a wide sale and helped to 
prepare the way for Davis' eventual release. Mrs. Davis, who worked un- 
tiringly for her husband's freedom, obtained President Johnson's permission 
to live at Fort Monroe near her husband in May, 1866. At first she stayed 


in a casemate, but later in the year General Burton, who had succeeded 
General Nelson A. Miles as commanding officer, permitted her to move 
into Carroll Hall with her husband. With them also were their daughter, 
"Winnie," and Mrs. Davis' sister, Margaret Howell. Davis was then given 
the freedom of the fort, while his wife came and went, making trips about 
the country to intercede in his behalf. Actmg on the advice of volunteer 
counsel, Charles O'Conor and George Shea, of New York City, she per- 
sonally appealed to Horace Greeley, editor of the Neiv York Tribune, who 
agreed to sign her husband's bail bond if the Government would release him. 
The release came May 13, 1867. The amount of the bail bond was $100,000. 
It was signed by Horace Greeley, Commodore Vanderbilt and others. After 
traveling in Europe for a time, Davis engaged in business in Memphis, 
Tennessee, later retiring to "Beauvoir," the estate of a friend, near Biloxi, 
Mississippi, where he wrote the two-volume work. The Rise and Fall of the 
Confederate Government. Mrs. Davis also began the writing of a biography 
of her husband, which was published in 1890. Davis lived to be 81 years old, 
dying December 6, 1889. He was buried amid pomp and ceremony in New 
Orleans, Louisiana, and in 1893 his body was brought to Richmond and 
reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery. 

Another historic spot at Fort Monroe is now the Jefferson Davis Casemate, 
which is open to the public daily from 8 to 5 o'clock. In the outer room 
is a painting of Davis and Colonel Craven, made by Jack Clifton, of Hampton, 
Virginia, and given to the Committee for the Fort Monroe Casemate 
Museum by three chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy — 
Bethel Chapter, of Newport News; Hampton Chapter; and Old Dominion 
Dragoons Chapter, of Hampton. 

Fort Monroe was one of the few forts in the South which was not captured 
by the Confederates at the start of the War between the States. Throughout 
the war it remained a continuing center of important operations, and the 
Union determined to hold it at all costs. Depleted early in 1861 to send 
reinforcements to Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and Fort Pickens, Florida, 
it was quickly brought up to strength by volunteers and militiamen rushed 
in by boat. Most of these regiments were from Massachusetts, Vermont and 
New York. They included such units as Duryee's Zouaves (Fifth New York) 
and Hawkins' Zouaves (Ninth New York), both uniformed in the style of 
the famous French Zouaves, with turbans or fezzes for headgear, short blue 
jackets, baggy red trousers and white leggings. Before long the fort was 
filled with troops, and the overflow of them went to camp on the opposite 
shore of Mill Creek, where Phoebus later arose. The new encampment was 
named Camp Hamilton. The troops took over the building of the Chesapeake 
Female College nearby, from which teachers and students alike had fled, 
and eventually converted it into a hospital. 


Newport News was occupied by troops from the fort on May 27. They 
threw up an entrenched camp which was named Camp Butler after Major 
General Benjamin F. Butler, who was commanding officer at Fort Monroe. 
He had come recently from Maryland, where he had alarmed President 
Lincoln by occupying Baltimore without authorization. A man of impulsive 
nature, he was inclmed always to act on his own initiative. When three 
runaway slaves sought refuge at the fort on May 23, 1861, he put them to 
work in the Quartermaster Department. Their owner, Colonel Charles K. 
Mallory, of Hampton, hearing their whereabouts, sent an emissary to demand 
their return under the Fugitive Slave Act. But Butler, in a conference held 
at the Phoebus end of the Mill Creek bridge, brought his legal prowess into 
play when he refused to return the runaways on the ground that they were 
"contraband of war." The result was that the fort was soon besieged with 
runaway slaves — men, women and children. Butler appealed to the War 
Department for advice, and was instructed to house and feed them and put 
the able-bodied ones to work. Thenceforth all slaves who sought refuge 
within the Union lines were called "contraband." 

On June 9, 1861, word came that a Confederate outpost had been estab- 
lished at Little Bethel, about eight miles northwest of Fort Monroe. One 
column of troops was sent from Camp Hamilton and another from Newport 
News, with orders to converge near Little Bethel and attack at daybreak. 
By some confusion in communications, the men from the two camps mis- 
takenly fired upon each other, killing and wounding several, and arousing 
the attention of the Confederates by their gunfire. When the confusion 
ended, Confederate fire came from the stronger position at Big Bethel, driving 
the Union forces back. Union losses on that occasion were eighteen killed, 
53 wounded and five missing. Confederate losses were one killed and seven 
wounded. The battle of Big Bethel, which took place June 10, 1861, at- 
tracted wide attention, for it was the first engagement of any note in the 
war. Skirmishes took place in the following month near Newport News. 

Throughout the war Fort Monroe, Camp Hamilton and Camp Butler 
were lone Union outposts in the heart of Confederate territory. To the south 
were Confederate batteries on Seawell's Point, the site of the present Naval 
Base, and Pig Point, at the mouth of the Nansemond. There were Confederate 
troops around Norfolk. To the west were the vast reaches of the James 
River; to the north. Confederate forces at Yorktown. From any direction the 
fort was subject to attack. From this fact stemmed many of the unusual 
events that took place in the area. 

One of these involved the need for accurate reconnaissance. The man 
of the hour might well be. General Butler thought, the balloonist, John 
La Mountain. The French had used balloons for military observation in 
1794, 1830 and 1859, but military aeronautics were practically unknown 


in the United States. Butler sent for La Mountain, trusting that he could 
later get authorization to cover the expenses involved. Between July 25 and 
August 10, 1861, he made several fixed ascensions, which revealed that the 
Confederate concentrations were much less than had been rumored. La 
Mountain's employment by Butler made him the first airman in the Union 
Army, inasmuch as Professor Thaddeus Lowe in the Washington area was 
not officially employed by the War Department before August 3, 1861. 
La Mountain had another "first " to his credit — his ascension from the deck 
of the gunboat Fanny in Hampton Roads, a ship %shich thus became the 
first ancestor of today's famous aircraft carriers. It was not until Novem- 
ber 12, 1861, that Professor Lowe made a flight from the deck of his balloon 
barge G. W. P. Custis. 

The Town of Hampton, which was three miles from the fort, had been 
occupied July 1, 1861. But after the battle of Bull Run, the War Depart- 
ment transferred three regiments from Fort Monroe to the Washington area. 
With his garrison again weakened, Butler ordered Hampton to be evacuated. 
The Confederates set fire to the town to prevent Union re-entry, and at that 
time, August 7, 1861, Hampton was almost wholly destroyed. 

The fort needed a Regular Army commander of long experience and 
high rank, of whom there was a shortage because so many such leaders 
had been lost with secession of the South. In its extremity the North called 
upon a 77-year-old officer, Major General John E. Wool, a veteran of the 
War of 1812 and the Mexican War, who arrived August 17, 1861, to take 
command. But real fighting did not begin before 1862 in this area. 

On March 8, 1862, the C.S.S. Virginia (ex-Merrimac) steamed out of 
the Elizabeth River to break the Union blockade by sinking the entire fleet 
of wooden ships, then starving Fort Monroe itself into submission. Destroy- 
ing two powerful frigates anchored oft Newport News, the Cuwberhtnd and 
the Congress, and driving off the Minnesota, the St. Lawrence and the 
Roanoke, she then returned to Seawell's Point to spend the night. The story 
of her construction, with full iron armor and heavy iron ram, told in fuller 
detail elsewhere represented another "first" of the war— the first "ironclad" 
of history. 

The second "ironclad" was even then on its way to the rescue. The 
U.S.S. Minnesota, driven off by the Virginia, had run aground out of reach 
of Southern guns. But when she ventured forth next morning to finish off 
the Minnesota, the Virginia encountered the Monitor, which had arrived 
during the night. For four hours the two ironclads pounded savagely at each 
other in a battle which is usually described as a draw. The Virginia retired 
to the Norfolk Navy Yard for repairs, and did not reappear in Hampton 
Roads until April 11, 1862. 

By April 1 the Union had landed 100,000 men, mostly volunteers, at 


Fort Monroe for the Peninsular campaign, a project mainly designed by 
General George B. McClellan. A fleet of 113 steamers, 118 schooners and 
88 barges had brought the newly-arrived Union forces through the Chesapeake 
Bay to the fort. Quickly McClellan took his men through Hampton and up 
the Peninsula, only to iind Yorktown exceedingly well defended. The siege 
began April 5, 1862. McClellan's request for naval support was refused by 
Commodore Louis M. Goldsborough, commanding the Union fleet in Hampton 
Roads, who feared getting the entire fleet bottled up in the James River and at 
the mercy of the Virginia, still hovering about the mouth of the Elizabeth 

Disturbed by the turn of events, Lincoln himself came to Fort Monroe, 
arriving May 6 and staying until May 11, and personally deciding while here 
that the capture of Norfolk was an absolute necessity to Union success. 
Otherwise the Virginia, enjoying the protection of Norfolk and Portsmouth 
while using them as a base, could menace the entire Union fleet and prevent 
it from being sent to McClellan's aid. All the more stirred to action by 
McClellan's success in the battle of Williamsburg on May 5, Lincoln per- 
sonally participated in a reconnaissance by boat to select a landing place 
where the Union forces would not be subject to attack by the Virginia. 
Ocean View was chosen. It was on the Chesapeake Bay shore, to reach which 
the Virginia would have to pass through the cross-fire from both Fort 
Monroe and Fort Wool, which at her slow speed of four knots would be 
disastrous, and at the same time leave Norfolk exposed to attack by the 
Monitor. Troops were landed at Ocean View on the afternoon and evening 
of May 9, 1862, with Lincoln watching the landing from a tug before he 
returned to Fort Monroe. Mayor Lamb of Norfolk met General Wool and his 
advancing troops on May 10, 1862, and surrendered the city, which had 
been evacuated by the Confederates. The Navy Yard was set afire by the 
departing Confederates. On May 11 the Confederates themselves blew up 
the Virginia to prevent her from falling into Union hands. With the original 
ironclad out of the way, Lincoln returned that night to Washington. 

Without his presence at the fort, things did not go so well for the 
Union. McClellan advanced to within six miles of Richmond, but in the 
indecisive battle of Fair Oaks on May 31, 1862, he seemed to expend all 
his force. Though the Confederate commander. Major General Joseph E. 
Johnston, was seriously wounded, McClellan let weeks go by without a 
further strike against Richmond. Meanwhile, the new commander. General 
Robert E. Lee, was planning an overwhelming attack upon the Army of 
the Potomac, which was threatening Richmond from the north. Meanwhile, 
he struck time and again at McClellan, beginning June 26, 1862. McClellan 
retreated to the James River, where on July 1 he repulsed Lee at Malvern 
Hill. Then he withdrew down the James to Harrison's Landing. On August 3, 


1862, the Army of the Potomac was ordered to return to northern Virginia, 
and McClellan's army moved back down the Penmsuia and sailed from 
Fort Monroe and Newport News. 

Fort Wool, on the south side of the channel, had previously been Fort 
Calhoun, but had been renamed after Fort Monroe's venerable commander, 
who was replaced on June 2, 1862, by another elderly officer. General John 
A. Dix. Fort Monroe now became the headquarters unit of an entire de- 
partment including Camps Hamilton and Butler, Yorktown, Williamsburg, 
Gloucester Point, Seawell's Point, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Suilolk. General 
Dix relaxed trade restrictions against Norfolk, released many political pris- 
oners at Fort Wool, and sent all available troops from Fort Monroe up the 
York River to threaten Richmond and divert Lee's strength from his attack 
on Pennsylvania in June, 1863. 

One of the prisoners he took at that time was General William Henry 
Fitzhugh Lee, General Robert E. Lee's own son, who had been convalescing 
from a leg wound at "Hickory Hill" in Hanover County. The Union com- 
mand at that time threatened to hang young Lee to insure good treatment 
of two Union officers in Libby Prison, Richmond, who were to be executed 
m retaliation for the execution of two Confederate officers in Kentucky. 
After the lives of the two Union officers were saved, "Rooney" Lee was 
given the freedom of the fort during the summer and fall of 1863 — until 
General Butler arrived at Fort Monroe in November of that year and saw 
the Confederate officer watching a Union regimental parade! "Rooney" Lee 
was then sent to the military prison at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor. 
He was finally exchanged in February, 1864. 

In 1863 General Dix was sent to New York City to relieve General Wool 
at the time of the July Draft Riots there, being replaced at Fort Monroe by 
Major General John G. Foster. In November, General Butler succeeded him, 
mtroducing a miniature navy in the form of a flotilla of army gunboats. 
The actual accomplishment of his fleet was to scour the rivers and inlets of 
Virginia and North Carolina, and Butler's boats actually did fight numerous 
brisk engagements — notably, one at Smithfield, Virginia, on February 2, 1864, 
and another at Plymouth, North Carolina, April 17, 1864. 

Prisoners of war were at no time held permanently at the fort, but 
usually were transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland. When Butler was 
appointed Commissioner of Exchange of Prisoners in December, 1863, the 
Confederates refused to deal with him because he had been "outlawed" by 
President Jefferson Davis. Butler countered this action by sending a boat 
with 500 prisoners to City Point (now Hopewell, Virginia) and offering to 
exchange them for a like number of Union prisoners. With the prisoners 
actually in view, the Confederates did not wish to send them back into 


captivity, and as a result sent their Agent of Exchange, Judge Robert Ould, 
to Fort Monroe to confer with Butler late in March, 1864. 

In mid-April, however. General Grant ordered Butler to stop all prisoner 
exchanges unless the Confederates would agree to release a number of Union 
officers and men equal to the number of Confederate officers and men cap- 
tured and paroled at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and in the exchanges to 
make no distinction between white and Negro soldiers. Actually Grant be- 
lieved that stopping the exchange of prisoners would hasten the end of 
the war. 

Grant himself spent two days at the fort on April 1 and 2, 1864, to out- 
line his plans for his spring campaign. Placed in supreme command of 
Union armies, he had determined to attack on all fronts simultaneously and 
continuously. There would be three major operations. Grant would attack 
Lee's army in northern Virginia. Butler would advance along the south 
bank of the James to threaten Richmond and its lines of communication. 
General William T. Sherman, at Chattanooga, Tennessee, would invade 
Georgia and cut off the food supply. Despite terrific losses, Grant regularly 
moved to a new position on the left of his line at each defeat by Lee. 
Butler was less successful, though he achieved one of Grant's aims — the 
capture of City Point and Bermuda Hundred, the latter a peninsula between 
the James and the Appomattox River. General Beauregard shut off the 
approach to Richmond by bottling up the neck of the peninsula; but City 
Point proved to be important a month later, when Grant, unable to capture 
Richmond by direct assault, slipped across the James and laid siege to 
Petersburg. At Bermuda Hundred, Butler built a canal across Dutch Gap to 
facilitate passage of Union gunboats up the James, thus by-passing a long 
hairpin bend in the river which was dominated by a Confederate shore bat- 
tery. Butler's canal lost its importance as a war move, but after peace 
returned it was enlarged and improved, and became the customary channel 
for passage of vessels. 

If the Union was gaining headway, it was doing so at terrific human 
cost. Grant lost 7,000 men in a single hour in killed and wounded at the 
battle of Cold Harbor. His siege of Petersburg took nine months, there 
being no longer room for him to slip around Lee's flank as he had re- 
peatedly done after the battle of the Wilderness. Finally, on June 14, 1864, 
he crossed the James River before Lee realized what he had done, and joined 
forces with Butler to attack Petersburg, but not being able to do so directly 
he began the long siege. On July 31 Grant and Lincoln conferred at Fort 
Monroe aboard the President's boat. 

Talk of peace negotiations was now in the air, but neither Jefferson 
Davis nor Abraham Lincoln expected results from these. But both considered 
it politic to permit a conference to take place. So the Hampton Roads Peace 


Conference occurred aboard the steamer River Queen under Fort Monroe's 
guns on February 3, 1865. The Confederates were represented by their Vice 
President, Alexander H. Stephens, and by Robert M. T. Hunter, presiding 
officer of their Senate, and John A. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War; 
and the Union by President Lincoln himself and his Secretary of State, 
William H. Seward. Lincoln insisted that the Confederate States return to 
the Union, and the Confederates held out for independence, as they had 
been instructed to do. The conference lasted four hours, and thereafter was 
a subject for jest on both sides. The war lasted until April 9, 1865, when 
Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Fort Monroe had figured prom- 
inently in the conflict from beginning to end, being the main Union bulwark 
in Confederate territory. From the fort, six separate expeditions had been 
sent out — those under Butler to Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, in August, 
1861; under Sherman to Port Royal, South Carolina, in October of that year; 
under Burnside to Roanoke Island, North Carolina, January, 1862; under 
Butler to New Orleans, February, 1862; under Butler to Fort Fisher, North 
Carolina, in December, 1864; and under Major General Alfred H. Terry 
to Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in January, 1865, to capture Wilmington, 
North Carolina, the Confederacy's last gateway to the outside world. 

Controlling the entrance to Hampton Roads, serving as a center for 
Union operations throughout the East for the entire duration of the war. 
Fort Monroe became obsolete as a result of the technical advances in military 
and naval science during that conflict. After 1890 detached batteries with 
powerful disappearing guns were erected on the beach. The old moated 
fort was left as a monument to the past. Today it is still an important part 
of national defense, but in a different way. It is the headquarters of the 
commanding general of the Continental Army Command. 

With the separation of the coast and field artillery branches of the service 
in 1907, the old Artillery School of Practice, established in 1824, was re- 
organized as the Coast Artillery School. It continued to operate here until 
September, 1946, when it was transferred to Fort Winfield Scott at San 
Francisco to make room for Headquarters, Army Ground Forces, which was 
moved to Fort Monroe from Washington, D. C. Massive fortifications still 
overlook the harbor they once guarded, but the only guns heard here now 
are those used to fire salutes. 

The responsibilities of the United States Continental Army Command 
Headquarters include command of all continental armies of the nation, as 
well as the Military District of Washington, D. C. The organization has 
grown out of the former General Headquarters of the Army, established in 
July, 1940, to control tactical troops in the United States. Development of 
field forces into a unified whole for effective World War II service required 
a Headquarters office capable of controlling fully a much broader range of 


military operations. In March, 1942, the War Department was reorganized, 
with three new commands — the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces 
and the Army Services Forces. The General Headquarters was discontinued 
as such at that time, and its functions were transferred to the new Army 
Ground Forces organization. The purpose was to reheve the General Staff 
and the Chief of Staff of time-consuming administrative duties. 

Charged with the former General Headquarters' responsibihties and those 
of the chiefs of Infantry, Cavalry, Field Artillery and Coast Artillery, the 
Army Ground Forces organized and trained eighty-nine divisions during 
World War II — five air-borne, sixteen armored, one cavalry, one mountain 
and sixty-six infantry. To replace casualties, approximately 2,500,000 men 
were processed through twenty-one Replacement Training Centers throughout 
the United States between March, 1942, and August, 1945. In the first three 
months of 1944, 315,000 ground troops left this country for the June invasion 
of the continent of Europe, and from August to October of that year 400,000 
more left for the actual invasion of Germany. 

After World War II the Army was reorganized to meet post-war needs. 
Once more taking advantage of lessons of war itself, the newly-conceived 
Army eliminated the Army Service Forces and the nine service commands 
operating inside the United States and created six continental armies to 
serve the functions of service commands and tactical field armies. Command 
was given over to the Commanding General of the Army Ground Forces, 
who was made responsible for training and operations in the Army areas. 
Each army in turn was made responsible for operation, training and admin- 
istrative functions in its area. The new organization was such that, in the 
event of hostilities, the tactical and administrative section could be separated, 
with administration falling into the hands of the old service commands and 
tactical work given more flexibility and mobility. 

In March, 1948, the Army Ground Forces were relieved of much ad- 
ministrative duty with respect to the separate armies, and training was 
concentrated in this branch. Their headquarters was renamed the Office of 
the Chief of Army Field Forces, and actual command of the armies passed 
to the Department of the Army. 

On February 1, 1955, the Office of Chief of Army Field Forces became 
Headquarters of the Continental Army Command, with General John E. 
Dahlquist as first commander of the new organization. He had been Chief 
of Army Field Forces from August, 1953, and continued in his new office 
until February, 1956. On March 1 of that year General W. G. Wyman took 
his place. Then, on January 1, 1957, the designation of the office was 
changed to Headquarters, United States Continental Army Command, gen- 
erally referred to as CONARC. 

The Commanding General of CONARC is broadly responsible for the 

Va. U 


ground defenses of the entire continental United States. He is specifically 
charged with command of the six continental armies and the Military District 
of Washington. CONARC directs, superintends, co-ordinates and inspects 
matters having to do with tactics, techniques, organization, doctrines and ma- 
teriel for Army use in the field and traming and training inspection in the 

continental United States, including Reserve components. 

* * * 

In the ninetieth anniversary year of the start of the War between the 
States, in which the role of Fort Monroe was so prominent, the Fort Monroe 
Casemate Museum had its beginnings. In 1951 it began operation, having 
been established by Colonel Paul R. Goode, Deputy Post Commander, to tell 
the story of the fort. It was called the Casemate Museum because of its 
three historic casemates, or chambers — a casemate being a chamber in the 
wall of a fort used for a gun position. These three are the Jefferson Davis 
Casemate, the Monitor and Merrhnac Casemate and the Old Fort Monroe 
Casemate. The Fort Monroe Casemate alone makes the museum outstanding 
in the country because of the fort's active part in the country's most devastat- 
ing war and its contents of a Lincoln shrine and the so-called Civil War 


* * * 

The Langley Aeronautical Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee 
for Aeronautics is the first and largest of the committee's research centers. 
These centers are now being operated in Virginia, Ohio and California. 

Established in 1917 and known for many years simply as Langley Field, 
Langley Air Force Base has grown since that time to occupy an outstanding 
position as a military aviation center, as well as the seat of operation of the 
above-mentioned National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. The base 
takes its name from the man whose inspiration was responsible for the field's 
founding — Samuel Pierpont Langley. Back in 1903 Langley made two un- 
successful efforts to start a full-scale "aerodrome" from a catapult mounted 
on a houseboat in the Potomac River. The catapult mechanism was faulty, 
but his plane was said to be capable of flying. Despite early failure, he laid 
the basis for the Army's experimental aeronautical program. 

In 1916 it was agreed at meetings of the National Advisory Committee 
for Aeronautics that Army, Navy and NACA should join hands in a joint 
experimental airfield and proving ground for aircraft. On June 28, 1917, the 
field was authorized as an experimental station, and construction began under 
supervision of the Air Service Section of the Signal Corps. In its first ten 
years that same Signal Corps section operated it, building it to a field 
strength of 475 officers and 4,700 troops in the later period of World War I. 
Units assigned to duty included several Aero Squadrons, a Photo School 
Detachment, an Aerial Observer School, a Balloon Detachment, a Camouflage 

(Courtes) o! /Ih Cnllimillii. inr li I 

son Davis Casemate) 




Detachment, an Air Service Flying School and several engineer construction 
companies. After the war's end and the resultant discharge of most labor 
units, the field's strength remained at about 1,500 men until 1935. 

In 1920 the base started the first Air Service Field Officers' School, 
which later became the Air Corps Tactical School. Its function has continued, 

(Ofjicut L'SAF Photo — Courtesy of Va. Peiiiiiiiila Asi'n of Commerce) 


through different reorganizations, as the training of student officers to direct 
units in the air, to emphasize close co-operation with other Army branches, 
and to provide technical instruction enabling students to teach technical 
staff officers. 

With a sound tactical doctrine thus established, Langley formed a Pro- 
visional Air Brigade to conduct bombing experiments against ex-German 
warships. Maneuvers and training took place off Virginia's Eastern Shore, 
near Cape Charles, under supervision of Brigadier General William ("Billy") 
Mitchell, then stationed at Langley. The first target was the destroyer G-102, 
moored about sixty miles off Cape Charles, which was attacked by about 


fifty planes, three blimps and seven additional planes of the Navy. Two 
direct hits sank the destroyer. Later other ships were sunk. The vulnerability 
of shipping to air attack was thus first proved. 

Until 1922 the base's construction was mainly of a temporary nature, in 
keeping with its experimental function. Its position was now secure, and a 
more permanent type of construction began. By March 1, 1935 the field was 
ready to receive and house the General Headquarters Staff of the Army Air 
Corps, and on that date it became the center of tactical aviation for the 
Army. It thus took its place as General Headquarters of the Army Air Corps, 
home of the Second Wing, the Second Bombardment Group and the Eighth 
Pursuit Group, and the foremost focal point in the brightening aviation 

World War II brought new developments. In 1941 the General Head- 
quarters of the Army Air Corps was moved to Boiling Air Force Base, 
Washington, D. C, and Langley became an installation of the First Air 
Force. In that same year the field readied itself for entry of the United States 
into the war, which seemed more and more inevitable, carrying on routine 
training of bombardment groups and their attendant observation and recon- 
naissance squadrons. When war came to the United States on December 7, 
the Twenty-second Bombardment Group was off within twenty-four hours 
for March Field (Now March Air Force Base) in California with complete 
equipment and personnel. The Second Bombardment Group and the Third 
Observation Squadron, remaining at Langley, became major participants in 
the later battle for control of the coastal waters of eastern United States. 

Within a month after activation of the First Sea Search Group, a training 
program was developed in radar for both operators and maintenance per- 
sonnel. A course in the tactical use of radar equipment, though newly 
started, became the nucleus of a full training in use of radar. Overseas units 
were soon being activated and trained, particularly for the war with Japan. 
Among the first such units was the Third Sea Search Attack Squadron, 
activated in December, 1942. It left Langley in August, 1943, for the South- 
west Pacific, where it used the new radar equipment to good advantage in 
destruction of enemy shipping and Navy vessels. 

Langley's function became increasingly important as the stress of war 
turned to the Pacific, where use of radar in both bombing and navigation 
was important. With World War II behind it, the base still kept stride 
with new aviation developments. Its wind tunnels, experimental laboratories, 
shops, buildings and equipment represented an investment of more than 
$100,000,000 by 1956 — a figure that is mounting. The Langley Laboratory, 
established in 1916, now occupies a 710-acre tract inside the base's boundaries, 
and research here embraces aerodynamics in all three speed ranges — subsonic, 
transonic and supersonic. Langley also conducts a pilotless aircraft research 


station at Wallops Island, on Virginia's Eastern Shore, where rocket-propelled 
missiles are fired into the sky over the Atlantic to gain scientific data at 
high speeds. 

More than 5,000 military personnel are assigned to the base, which now 
houses the Headquarters of the Tactical Air Command, the 836th Air Divi- 
sion (including the 405th Fighter Bomber Wing and the 345th Bombardment 

( UIIu'ijI USAF Fhoto — Courtesy of Va. Pen'njsuU Ais'u uf Ci^inmtfrce) 


Wing), a fighter interceptor squadron of the Air Defense Command, a field 
printing squadron of the Continental Air Command, and other units. The 
Tactical Air Command was activated in March, 1946, and moved to Langley 
to provide proximity to the Continental Army Command, Fort Monroe and 
the Atlantic Fleet Headquarters in Norfolk. 

Under the Tactical Air Command are three Air Forces — the Ninth, 
Twelfth and Nineteenth — consisting of fighter-bomber, day lighter, light and 
tactical bombardment, tactical reconnaissance, tactical missile, medium troop 
carrier, rotary and fixed wing assault units, and other specialized tactical 
forces which the command organizes, equips and trains for service in the 
United States or throughout the world. 

The Department of the Air Force was established and made a part of the 



Department of Defense by the National Security Act of 1947 and by the terms 
of that Act came into legal being on September 18, 1941. The organization 
of the Air Force is prescribed by the Air Force Organization Act of 1951 
(Public Law 150, 82nd Congress 65, Stat. 326). Air Fields became Air 
Force Bases. 

The base thus fulfills the original intentions and purposes of the Na- 
tional Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was established by act 
of Congress in 1915 "to supervise and direct the scientific study of the 

(Courtesy Va, Peninsula Ass'n of Commerce) 




problems of flight, with a view to their practical solution" . . . and . . . "to 
direct and conduct research and experiments in aeronautics." With head- 
quarters in Washington, D. C, the committee operates two other major 
laboratories and one research station. Its Ames Aeronautical Laboratory was 
established at Moffett Field, California, in 1939, and its Lewis Flight Propul- 
sion Laboratory at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1942. In 1946 it started a High-Speed 
Flight Station at Edwards, California, where piloted flights are conducted in 
high-speed research aircraft in co-operation with the Air Force, the Navy 
and the aircraft industry. 

Langley is its oldest and largest research center. The function of the 
Virginia base is primarily to improve efficiency, safety and speed of aircraft, 
and as such is co-ordinated with the work of the other centers. NACA has 


thirty wind tunnels, three seaplane testing basins, five major testing lab- 
oratories, and eleven shops and service facilities. It works, of course, in 
conjunction with the U. S. Air Force, although there is no formal connection 
between the two. It operates as a separate agency of the Federal Government. 

References on Chapter VIII 

Virginia and the Virginia County, pub. by League of Virginia Counties, September-October, 1948. 

The Casemate Museum, Fort Monroe, Va., leaflet of Committee for the Fort Monroe Casemate 
Museum, Newport News, Va. 

Historic Fort Monroe, booklet of Headquarters Continental Army, Army Command, Fort Monroe, Va. 

Chester D. Bradley, "JeflFerson Davis in Prison," in Manuscripts, quarterly publication of the Manu- 
script Society. 

Monographs published by the Committee for the Fort Monroe Casemate Museum, Newport News, Va., 
titled as follows; 

Fort Monroe in the Ciiil War 

General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign 

Robert E. Lee at Fort Monroe 

General Simon Bernard, Aide-de-Camp to Sapoleon and 
Designer of Fort Monroe 

Edgar Allan Poe at Fort Monroe 

Is It Fort Monroe or Fortress Monroe? 

A Brief Biography of Jefferson Davis 

The Greatest of All American Wars 

The Hampton Roads Peace Conference (186}) 

Abraham Lincoln's Campaign Against the Merrimac 

John La Mountain and His Balloon at Fort Monroe 

The Monitor and the Merrimac 

Old Point Comfort: Americas Greatest Bastion 

U. S. Grant Comes to Fort Monroe 
Chester D. Bradley, M.D., "Dr. Craven and the Captivity of Jefferson Davis at Fort Monroe," 
Virginia Medical Monthly, May, 1956. 

Government Activities. Virginia Peninsula Association of Commerce, Newport News, Va. 
langley Aeronautical Laboratory and the tiational Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. 
Langley Air Force Base and Community Guide, pub. by Military Services Publications, May, 1958. 




Chapter IX 

The County of New Norfolk 

IT HAS BEEN frequently stated by both professional and amateur 
writers of local history that the area of Elizabeth City County, south of 
Hampton Roads, was in 1636 cut off and established as New Norfolk 
County; and further, that it was subdivided in 1637 into the Upper County 
of New Norfolk and the Lower County of New Norfolk. These statements 
are not entirely in accord with the recorded facts and should be examined in 
detail. But first, let us identify the areas of 1637 in modern terms: the first, 
otherwise called Upper Norfolk County, was re-named Nansemond less 
than ten years later; and the second, or Lower Norfolk County, was divided 
in 1691 to form the Counties of Norfolk and Princess Anne. 

As has been true from its very beginning, the history of this area was 
inseparably bound to that of the province of Carolina. The first Carolina 
charter, that of 30 October 1629, was for a proprietary Colony and granted 
to Sir Robert Heath, Attorney General, an enormous area from 31° to 36° 
north latitude and from sea to sea; this would include the coast of Georgia, 
South Carolina, and North Carolina up to the south shore of Albemarle 
Sound. Within a year the rights to this territory had been assigned to others 
and Boswell held that portion between Albemarle Sound and the mouth 
of the Cape Fear River. In 1632 this coast was explored, though no settle- 
ment was made, and another important proprietor became associated in the 
enterprise: his name was Henry Frederick Howard, Baron Maltravers.^ 

In order to understand clearly the Howard family's connection with the 
story of Norfolk, a few brief facts concerning its history should be cited. 
Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk, conspired with Philip II of 
Spain in planning an invasion of England, for which act of treason he was 
executed in 1572. His son, Philip, was allowed to succeed in the titles of 
Earl of Surrey and Baron Maltravers, but because of his father's attainder 
was not permitted to succeed to the Dukedom of Norfolk. Philip also inherited 
the title of Earl of Arundel from his maternal grandfather. Thomas, son of 
Philip, became (at his father's death in 1595) Earl of Arundel and Surrey and 
Baron Maltravers, and in 1644 was created Earl of Norfolk, though the 


dukedom of that ilk was not revived until later. Therefore, Henry Frederick, 
son of Thomas, on his succession in 1646 became Earl of Arundel, Surrey and 
Norfolk; his son, Thomas, became fifth Duke of Norfolk in 1660 by reversal 
of the attainder of 1572. Thus at the time of which we are here writing, 
the Dukedom of Norfolk was in abeyance and the Earldom had not yet been 
created; likewise, Henry Frederick was simple Lord Maltravers, not having yet 
succeeded to his triple earldom.- 

, -it 

'% \ 


^\f^ ■ 


(Isabella Sleuarl Gardner 
Museum, Boston) 




To return to the main thread of the story, oi. 5 July 1636, Charles I wrote 
a letter of instructions to Governor John Harvey in behalf of Henry Lord 
Maltravers, who wanted to take part in the colonization of Virginia. The 
Governor was ordered at that time "to assign and sett out to the said Lord 
Maltravers and his heirs such a competent tract of land in the southern part 
of that country [Virginia"] as may beare the name of a county and be called 
the county of Norfolk." With knowledge of the Maltravers background, it is 
clear why this choice of name was made; it indicates a softened attitude 
toward the Howard family and foreshadows the creation of the earldom and 
eventual revival of the dukedom of Norfolk. For the Stuart Kings were well 
known for their inclination to reverse the decisions made by their Tudor pre- 
decessors, as witness the treatment of the great Raleigh at the hands of 
James I. 

From a later communication it is learned that the royal letter of instruc- 
tions did not arrive at destination. A second letter went out under date of 1 1 
April 1637, the opening phrases of which are here quoted: 

Trustie and weibeloved NNce greet you well. Whereas our right trustie and 
welbeloved Henr)- Lord Maltravers hath a desire to undertake the planting of 


some parte of that territory of Virginia for the advancement of our honor and 
service wherein wee are willing to give him advancement and encouragement, 
and concerning which wee formerly directed our letters unto you, but as we 
understand they came not to your hands being miscarryed on the way to 
you . . .* 

Following the above, the instructions to set up the County of Norfolk were 
couched in much the same terms as those contained in the letter of nine 
months earlier. The end result of these instructions was a land grant by 
Governor Harvey in the name of the Crown under date of 22 January 
1637/8, reading in part as follows: 

Know yee that ye said Sir John Harvey, Knight, Governor and Captain- 
General of Virginia with the consent of the said Counsel of State, by virtue 
of his majestie's said royal letters to me & ye said councel directed, and in 
consideration of ye undertaking of ye said Henry Lord Maltravers to transport 
at his own costs and charges & to settle and plant divers inhabitants in ye 
colony for ye advancement and general good of ye plantation, have granted, 
allotted, assigned and confirmed to ye said Henry Lord Maltravers & his heirs 
for ever a certain territory & tract of land situate, lying and being on the 
southern side of the James River in the branch of ye said river hereafter to be 
called Maltravers River, towards the head of ye said Nanzimum alias Mal- 
travers* River being bounded from that part of Nanzimum alias Maltravers 
River where it divides itself into branches, one degree in longitude on either 
side and in latitude to ye height of 35 degrees northerly latitude by ye name 
and appellation of ye County of Norfolk. 

The customary vagueness with which these bounds are specified makes it 
difficult to lay them out with exactitude, but a glance at a map will show that 
a north-south line one degree west from Nansemond River would almost 
reach the towns of Emporia, Virginia, and Roanoke Rapids, Weldon, Tarboro, 
and Kinston, North Carolina, and that the thirty-fifth parallel runs through 
the mouth of Neuse River and takes in New Bern, North Carolina. It is 
obvious that this vast grant, if validated, was intended to be a county not in 
the Virginia usage of the word — a unit of local government of an area roughly 
in the hundreds of square miles and administered by a Court and a Sheriff — 
but a county of the same kind as Albemarle County, "cradle of North 
Carolina," measured in the thousands of square miles, administered by a 
Governor, Council and Legislature, and divided into precincts (Chowan, 
Perquimans, Pasquotank and Currituck) which, themselves, later became coun- 
ties in our sense of the word. 

The lack of complete records of the proceedings of the Virginia Assembly 
at this time makes it difficult to determine exactly what happened. There is on 

* This name was used in a few grants, but usage soon reverted to Nansemond which is still 
with us today. 


record no Act setting up a New Norfolk County from territory formerly part 
of Elizabeth City County, or dividing it into its 'Upper" and "Lower" com- 
ponents. If, as is indicated in the second royal letter of instruction, it had 
been determined in London that the first letter had gone astray, then by the 
same means some notion of the contents of that first letter must have also 
gotten through to Virginia, to the extent that steps were taken to set up a 
New Norfolk County some time before the second letter was received. The 
fact of the matter is that just two days after the date of that letter, on 13 
April 1637, a patenf* was drawn up for land in "Upper New Norfolk County'' 
(incorrectly so written, for the land was on the Western Branch of Elizabeth 
River) ; this, according to Marshall Butt, is the first occurrence of the name 
"Norfolk " in our records. Then, almost exactly a month later, on 15 May 
1637, the Court for the "Lower County of New Norfolke" met for the first 
time. This was eight months prior to the Virginia Governor's grant to Mal- 
travers, which not only encroached a whole degree of latitude (sixty nautical 
miles) on the Carolina grant of 1629, but covered a part of our area in which 
a few individual grants had been made as early as 1620-1624, and which in 
1635 and 1636 became the center of great activity in the matter of land 
grants and settlements. Details concerning these early settlers will be 
given below. 

We saw, in the earlier chapter on the Corporation of Elizabeth City, that 
there were seven early grantees of land south of Hampton Roads: Captain 
William Tucker at Seawell's Point in 1620, John Sipsey* and John Chees- 
man** in 1624, and the others including Thomas Willoughby by 1626. It is 
not likely that Tucker had his principal residence here, being "Commander 
of Kecoughtan;" nor do we believe that Willoughby lived here this early, 
because of his previously pointed out associations with Elizabeth City proper, 
but he did remove to this area very soon as will appear below. It is not re- 
corded directly or indirectly that Sipsey owned land anywhere else, and it is 
possible that he may have been the first individual who had his principal 
residence in the Seawell's Point area, with Henry Seawell (for whom no 
patents have been preserved) running him a close second, possibly after 
1633. The fact that the hitter's name soon became associated with the Point 
lends weight to his being an early and important settler here. 

It is realized that the activities of 1635 and 1636 more properly belong 
to the history of Elizabeth City County, but this area south of Hampton Roads, 
remained for just a short span of three years a part of that county and so 
soon assumed an identity of its own that it has seemed more convenient to 
treat it separately. Apparently, for nine years after the list of patents was 
drawn up in 1626, there was no further interest in this area, and then in 

* Sibsey. 
** Chisman. 



1635 the patent books show a decided change, and the great increase in the 
number of landowners here in that and the following year unquestionably 
had much to do with the organization of the new counties, whatever may 
have been contributing factors from the other side of the Ocean. It must be 
remembered that the date of a grant does not always indicate the time 
the land was seated upon; many of these grantees may have been here a short 
time previous. Here, as before, are listed details on the earliest land grants 
in what was to become Lower Norfolk County:^ 



Acres Remarks 

[on the Western Branch of Elizabeth River} 

21 April 1635 

Francis Towers 


21 April 1635 

John Hill 


30 May 1635 

John Slaughter 
John Radford 


1 June 1635 

John Sibsey 


2 June 1635 

Cornelius Lloyd 


14 June 1635 

Capt. Wm. Tucker 


14 July 1635 

Thomas Wright 


{on the Elizabeth River proper} 
1 June 1635 Thomas Lambert 

1 July 1635 William Ramshaw 

2 July 1635 Cornelius Lloyd 

[on the Lynnhaven River} 

24 June 1635 
14 Sept. 1635* 
20 Nov. 1635 

18 Dec. 1635 

Adam Thorowgood 
Thomas Allen 
Wm. Wilkinson,** 

Thomas Keeling 

Geo. Downes 
Adam Thorowgood 




1 mi. up the Branch 

{4 mi. up the Branch 
between Clark's Creek 
and Brown's Bay 
adj. Brown's Bay 
Slaughter patent renewed 
in his name 
^present area of West 
;/ Norfolk 

{south side of Branch 
E. on Merchant's Creek 
W. on Muddy Creek 
north side of Branch 
near Tucker 

E. side of "Bay" of 
Elizabeth River; still 
[called Lambert's Point 
S. side River 

W. side 

E. side 
(E. side, W. on Keeling, 
) E. on Downes 
^ known to be here from 
) above patent 
(known to be here from 
) above patent 
600 E. side 

* This date actually reads 1630, which is probably erroneous; there is no reason to believe this 
grant was not made with the others. 
** Also written Wilkerson. 

19 Nov. 1635 Thos. Willoughby 300 


Date Name Acres Remarks 

18 Dec. 1635 Robert Camm 200 adj. Wilkinson 

[on the Southern Branch of Elizabeth River] 

ir,M i^:!« T-u wrii uu -yr^r, (W. On Southem BraDcH 

19 Nov. 1635 Thos. Willouehby 300 i,^ t- . n i ,->^ 

° ' ^N. on Eastern Branch (?) 

[on the Chesapeake Bay] 
19 Nov. 1635 Thos. Willoughby 300 E. on his dwelling house 

"W. on a creek (now 
Mason's Creek) which 
separates this from 
Francis Mason 

„ ■ Tir (known to be here from 

rrancis Mason \ , 

/above patent 

On the basis of the above grants, it appears that settlement of this area 
in 1635 spread in the following manner: first, on the Western Branch before 
midyear; second, on the river itself at about midyear; third, at Lynnhaven 
during the latter half of the year; and fourth and last, on the Southern Branch 
and the Bay Shore near the end of the year. In I636, many new grants were 
made, some to former settlers, some to new arrivals. It would be more tedious 
than profitable to detail all of them, but here are the principal ones: on the 
Western Branch, Edward Lloyd (brother of Cornelius) and Robert Page; on 
the river itself, John Yates, William Ramshaw, Thomas Burbage, John Gater, 
Cornelius Lloyd, and Thomas Willoughby; at Lynnhaven, Christopher Bur- 
roughs, William Layton, and Henry Southell; on the Southern Branch, John 
Yates again, and John Roberts; and on the Eastern Branch — the first there — 
William Julian, and John Gater again.* 

The names of some of these landowners in the newly opened area have 
become familiar through previous allusion. We do not need to comment 
further at this point on John Sibsey or William Tucker. The Lloyds were to 
become quite prominent hereabouts, as will later appear. Thomas Allen and 
Thomas Keeling both lived in the Lynnhaven section; the former was on the 
land now called Broad Bay Manor, home of the late John B. Dey's family, 
Keeling was on the east side of the river and was the progenitor of that 
numerous and well-known clan." John Hill came in 1621, and will be noted 
again below in connection with Thorowgood. Thomas Lambert's land is 
clearly identified by the name of Lambert's Point, a locality still well-known 
in these parts. We shall mention the Reverend Mr. Wilkinson when we come 
to talk of the church and parish here. But three individuals require special 
mention: they are, Willoughby, Mason and Thorowgood.* 

* Thoroughgood. 


Thomas Willoughby" was an "ancient planter," and had reached the tender 
age of nine years when he arrived on these shores in I6IO. He was a nephew 
of Sir Percival Willoughby of WoUaton (Nottingham), a shareholder in the 
Virginia Company and member of an ancient and honorable family. Young 
Thomas must have come under someone's sponsorship in view of his age 
and does not appear to have been an indentured servant as was Thorowgood, 
a thing which frequently happened to younger sons of good family; these 
things do not appear in the record. As previously noted, he had land in 1626 
near the mouth of the York River and near Willoughby's Point which was 
named for him, though not until about 1635. He was Ensign of Colonial 
Militia when he acquired some of the Salford land east of Newport News, 
was Lieutenant when he became a Justice in 1629, and Captain when he 
represented that section in the House of Burgesses in 1630. It is not certain 
when he removed to the south shore of the Chesapeake Bay, but his dwelling 
house is mentioned in the 1635 patent, so he must have been there some time 
then. Since he was "absent" when the Assembly met in September of 1632, 
and not a Burgess in February, 1632/3, this may be some indication. His 
dwelling house — which has long since disappeared — was probably near the 
spot where the present Willoughby Spit joins the mainland and would have 
been just north of the present Ocean View School, for this was the location 
of Willoughby's Point, the Spit being a much more recent formation. 

Francis Mason was also an "ancient planter," having arrived in the 
colony in I613. His first known land, according to the list of 1626 was in 
Charles City, a little above Westover. Just when he settled in the Norfolk 
area is not known, but he was here by 1635 as was indicated in Willoughby's 
patent,® on the west side of the creek which soon took his name, and is still 
known to present generations as Mason's Creek though much of it has been 
filled in from its former mouth at Breezy Point (U.S. Naval Air Station) 
toward the south. Mason became quite active in the life of the county and 
his progeny intermarried with many of the old county families which have 
living representatives here; all of this will unfold in later chapters. 

Adam Thorowgood (as his name appears most commonly in the early 
records) arrived in Virginia in 1621 being then aged seventeen. A younger 
son of an influential family — Sir John Thorowgood of Kensington was his 
elder brother — he was the son of Rev. William Thorowgood, Puritan minister 
of Grimston, and Anne (Edwards) his wife of Norwich, both in County 
Norfolk. Like many of his station in life, he bound himself as an indentured 
servant in return for his passage, his sponsor being Captain Edward Waters 
whom we have met before. By 1624 he was free to return to London where 
he was married on 18 July of that year to Sarah Offley. This young lady came 
from a family of lowly mercantile beginnings which, through its financial 
successes, had risen to a position of title and influence; in her maternal line 

Va. 15 


were two Lord Mayors of London, one of which had also been High Sheriff. 
These facts are mentioned simply because they may serve to explain her later 
overbearing attitude toward some of her neighbors. Thorowgood did not 
return to Virginia until 1628, and it may be that he was engaged during the 
intervening years in persuading a large number of the sizeable group for 
which he was later responsible m the Colony. Upon his return to Elizabeth 
City he immediately assumed a position of influence, first as a Justice in 
March of 1628/9, and later in 1629 as a member of the House of Burgesses. 
Though not on the 1626 list, he soon acquired land on Southampton and 
Back Rivers, the latter undoubtedly being his residence as is confirmed by 
the fact that he was Burgess for the Lower Parish (or Part) of Elizabeth 
City. It is not known when he removed to Lynnhaven, but he also did not 
appear as Burgess from Elizabeth City after 1632, and like Willoughby, he 
may have left there about that time. His first recorded grant was that of 14 
June 1635 listed above, whose five thousand three hundred and fifty acres 
covered most of the area from Lynnhaven River west towards Little Creek. ^" 
It is traditional here that the river itself, first called Chesopean, was renamed 
by Thorowgood because of a fancied resemblance to the harbor at King's Lynn 
in his native Norfolk, where the River Ouse flows into The Wash, a small 
arm of the North Sea. In fact, some have credited to Thorowgood the con- 
necting of the name Norfolk with this area of Virginia, discarding entirely any 
consideration of the Maltravers grant previously noted and matters concerning 
it. Thorowgood was elevated to the dignity of the Governor's Council in 1636. 

Thus most of the land between Lynnhaven River and Seawell's Point 
on the south shore of Chesapeake Bay was in the hands of three men: Wil- 
loughby, Thorowgood and Mason. To this we should add the name of Henry 
Seawell, before noted; his only appearance as a Burgess for Elizabeth City 
was in September, 1632, the last Assembly in which Willoughby's and Thor- 
owgood's names were listed. We know the record mentioned in Chapter IV 
stated that Seawell was here shortly after December, 1633, and he must have 
acquired considerable property for Seawell's Point to have assumed his name 
as early as it did. 

The Thorowgood patent of 1635 covered the then enormous sum of five 
thousand three hundred and fifty acres and was granted (as therein stated) 
at the especial recommendation of the Privy Council, bearing witness to his 
backing. It listed the names of no less than one hundred and five persons in 
return for whose passage the land was granted, giving evidence of his ener- 
getic recruiting of settlers and colonists for which he was so amply compen- 
stated. Among this list of names there were a few that would bear special 
comment: there were Thomas Keeling and William Kempe, whom we have 
previously met, and Augustine Warner, who later settled in Gloucester County 
and whose granddaughter became the grandmother of George Washington." 



Of great interest in the Thorowgood patent is the name of John Hill: by a 
record of some years later (January 1647/8) we learn that he arrived in 
Virginia in 1621 and that he "doth affirme himself formerly to have lived 
in the university of Oxford of the trade of booke binder, and that he is the 
Sonne of Stephen Hill of Oxford aforesaid ffletcher*..."'- 

It will be recalled from a previous chapter that the Nansemond River area 
— to become Upper New Norfolk upon the division — was in 1609 the site of 
the first (though only temporary) settlement in Virginia after Jamestown. It 
was composed of some sixty men under Captains John Martin and George 
Percy, and was soon abandoned because of the hostility of the natives. ^^ It is 
remarkable that, though continuous settlement began at Kecoughtan in 1610, 
and in other Lower Tidewater localities (even the Lower Norfolk area) within 
a dozen years of that date, we learn of no grants even indirectly on Nanse- 
mond River in the I620's, none are included on the list of 1626, and no settle- 
ments were made here apparently until after 1630. As a matter of fact, land 
grants in this area appear first in 1635 as in the period of increased activity 
in Lower Norfolk, but here, also, may indicate earlier seating on the land 
than the actual dates of the grants. Here, as was done with Elizabeth River 
and Lynnhaven River, are given the names of some of the earliest settlers 
on Nansemond River which appear in the land grants that have been pre- 
served : '■' 

\ North on Nansemond 
^ River 

on Nansemond River 
ll/^ mi. up a creek, 
N. on Nansemond River 
^S. E. side Nansemond 
^ River 

^ North on Nansemond 
j River 

^East on a creek 3 mi. 
)up Nansemond River 
South side Nansemond 

Two of the above names require special comment. Richard Bennett was he 
who represented Warrosquyoake in the House of Burgesses, and was said to be 
die nephew of Edward Bennett, who had an extensive plantation there in 1622. 
Being a prominent Puritan dissenter, he was a logical choice for Governor 




29 May 1635 

John Parrott 


26 June 1635 

Richard Bennett 


26 June 1635 

Robert Bennett 


14 July 1635 

Martha Tomlin, 


3 June 1635 

Geo. White, minister 


19 June 1635 

Joseph Johnson 


14 July 1635 

Joseph Samon 


' Arrow-maker. 



under the Commonwealth as will later appear. Reverened George White, 
along with the Reverend Mr. Wilkinson of Lynnhaven, will be mentioned 
later in this chapter in connection with a possible ecclesiastical organization in 
this locality before 1637. We now continue with additional land grants in 
the years 1636:^'' 

13 Feb. 1635/6 

7 July 1636 

17 Oct. 1636 

22 Nov. 1636 

24 Nov. 1636 

25 Nov. 1636 

Name Acres 

John Garye 300 

Richard Bennett, 300 


John Gookin, Gent. 500 

Robert Newman 50 

William Fookes 45 

Francis Maulden 400 

rS. Side Nansemond 
J River near Samon 
I ( see above ) 
1 mi. N. of Sandy 
Creek, the 1st Creek 
west of Craney Point 
betw. Nansemond and 
Elizabeth Rivers 
fMossy Point W. on 
J Nansemond River S., 
adjoining the Glebe 
Nansemond River betw. 
his dwelling house 
and the land or house 
of Francis Hoofe 
\ Nansemond River, ad- 
ji joining Daniel Gookin 
^N. side Nansemond 
^ River 

As usual, it is difficult to locate these descriptions with certainty. The 1635 
grant of Richard Bennett for two thousand acres was evidently on the second 
creek inside the mouth of Nansemond River on the south, still called Ben- 
nett's Creek today. His 1636 grant was almost certaintly on present Hoffler's 
Creek — the first creek west of Craney Island — which was to be the boundary 
between Upper and Lower Norfolk Counties, and is still today the line be- 
tween Nansemond and Norfolk Counties. John and Daniel Gookin (the 
latter mentioned only indirectly) were the sons of Daniel Gookin, Sr., who 
will be recalled as the owner of the large plantation at Newport News called 
Marie's Mount in 1621; John Gookin will be seen in the following chapter 
as a prominent citizen of Lower Norfolk. It will be noted that Robert New- 
man had a dwelling house which was near the house of Francis Hoofe; the 
latter name was undoubtedly the same as the one written Hough and Hutf, 
in which case this land was where a town was later established (1680), and 
was much later known as Town Point. Only four years sooner Francis Hough 
was Burgess from Nutmeg Quarter, as noted earlier. All of these circum- 


stances will be more fully discussed in what follows. It should be pointed out 
in passing that John Gookin's land adjoined a Glebe, which will be men- 
tioned below. 

It has been previously mentioned that whenever a new administrative 
subdivision of the Colony was set up — be it plantation, corporation or 
county — a parish or parishes were established coterminous with it. Thus, if 
there had been a New Norfolk County, there ought also to have been a New 
Norfolk Parish; but the parish is as elusive as the county and apparently 
no record of it has been preserved. This doesn't mean that there was no 
ecclesiastical administration at all south and east of Hampton Roads before 
1637. On the contrary, there are definite — though meagre — indications that 
divine worship was being held and possibly the church's worldly affairs were 
being attended to there by 1635 and possibly sooner. The reader is reminded 
of the General Court minutes of 8 April 1629: 'The Churchwardens of the 
P[ar]ishe of the lower P[ar]tes of Elizabeth City did present 'William Capps 
and John Sipse[y] for not frequenting of the Parish Church. "*' The late 
George C. Mason suggested that this might indicate a division of Elizabeth City 
on the Seawell's Point side; it must be remembered, however, that Capps did 
not live over there, but right on Southampton River opposite the church. It 
is believed the matter of the Lower Part (or Parish) of Elizabeth City has 
been sufficiently explained by the fact that Adam Thorowgood of Back River 
and John Arundel of Buckroe were its representatives in September, 1632, 
and in February, 1632/3, respectively. We do not think, therefore, that there 
was ever a parish south of Hampton Roads before that area was cut off. There 
was certainly no necessity for a minister there before 1630, but the increase in 
settlement after that time, and particularly in 1635 as evidenced by the 
number of patents, did cause such a need to arise. In 1635 and 1636 occurred 
the first recorded notice of two ministers in these areas, one each in the 
parts which were to become Upper Norfolk County and Lower Norfolk 
County. By assignment of 3 October 1635 (confirmed by patent on 20 No- 
vember) the Reverend William Wilkinson and his wife, Naomi, received a 
total of seven hundred acres on Lynnhaven River opposite the plantation 
of Captain Adam Thorowgood. Mr. Wilkinson was son of a minister in 
Buckinghamshire, was educated at Oxford where he matriculated in 1626 
at the age of fourteen, and graduated B.A. (1629/30) and M.A. (1632).!" 
It is not known whether he was here as a simple settler or in his clerical 
capacity, but we are inclined to think the latter, for there would be no other 
reason for a minister to be in the Colony. Nor is it known how long he re- 
mained in Lynnhaven, probably not later than 1637 when the first minister 
was regularly assigned in Lower Norfolk. Mr. Wilkinson seems to have gone 
first to Elizabeth City and later to Maryland, but that part of his story does 
not concern the present narrative. The other minister here at this time was 


the Reverend George White" of Gloucestershire, also an Oxonian, who 
matriculated at Broadgates Hall in I6I8 at the age of seventeen. He seems 
to have been living on Nansemond River in 1636, as previously mentioned 
in connection with the land grants, and was apparently paid for officiating 
in the Elizabeth River area in 1637. As in the case of Wilkinson, it is not 
known how long he remained, but it seems he obtained land in Warwick 
(Denbigh Parish) about the same time or a little later. Thus between 1635 
and 1637 or later, there was a minister in each of these areas which were later 
to become counties. Most remarkable of all is the fact, mentioned above, that 
there was a glebe on Nansemond River in 1636 in addition to the Reverend 
Mr. White's personal holding of 1635. The definition and significance of the 
term "glebe " was discussed previously,'** the existence of a glebe on Nanse- 
mond River in 1636 implies two things: an established parish and a regularly 
assigned minister or incumbent of such parish. It will be recalled that the 
Reverend George White, in addition to living on Nansemond River, was 
paid for officiating on Elizabeth River. Could he have been the minister of 
our hypothetical New Norfolk Parish? That being the case, it is difficult to 
explain the presence of the Reverend William Wilkinson, evidently a resi- 
dent of Lynnhaven from 1635 to 1637; we have seen no mention of a glebe 
so early in that area, so we could not go so far as to suggest a parish sub- 

In summary, let it be said that the sharp rise in population south of Hamp- 
ton Roads (in 1635 and possibly earlier) made it evident that this area could 
not be administered efficiently from Elizabeth City proper. It is a matter of 
record that the idea of a "New Norfolk County" was born before the middle 
of 1636, but there is no evidence in the statutes that it ever existed in fact, 
and there is no record of any local government of such a county. As early 
as April, 1637, land grant records bear witnesses that there were then two 
separate units here, the Upper and Lower Counties of New Norfolk, and one 
month later the administration of the Lower County was firmly established. 
We may safely assume that the Upper County's government was operating 
at the same time, though the tragic loss of its records has removed docu- 
mentary proof thereof. Since judicial and ecclesiastical subdivisions went 
hand in hand in the Colony, the presence of two ministers here in 1635 
and the existence of a glebe in 1636 lend some weight to the hypothetical 
existence of New Norfolk County in the latter year, but if it did exist, its 
organization was not perfected before its division into the two counties which 
are known with certaintv. All we can be sure of, in the present state of our 
knowledge, is that the area south and east of Hampton Roads first appears in 
legal records as two counties and parishes in May, 1637, named respectively 
the Upper County of New Norfolk and the Lower County of New Norfolk. 


Notes on Chapter IX 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 

1. Lefler, North Carolina, I, 31-2; Butt, Norfolk County. 

2. Butt, op. cil.; Enc. Brit., II, 706 et seq.; XIX, 744; Lefler, op. cit., p. 58. 

3. Butt, op. cit, what follows is from this source unless specified to the contrary. 

4. Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers, p. 55. 

5. Ibid., passim. 

6. Loc. cit.; the 1636 grant to Willoughby — actually dated in February, 1636/7 — was the first 
for the land which later (1680) became the site of Norfolk Town. 

7. Kellam, Princess Anne, pp. 210, 57. 

8. Nugent, op. cit., p. xxxi; IV447-450; Sams, The Third Attempt, p. 812. 

9. Nugent, op. cit., p. xxxii; Sams, op. cit., p. 807; Butt, op. cit. 

10. Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 26 Nov. 1950; 18 Mar. 1956; Kellam, op. cit., pp. 37-40. 

11. Lowther, Mount Vernon, p. 110. 

12. Kellam, op. cit., p. 38. 

13. See Chapter III, notes 34, 40. 

14. Nugent, op. cit., passim. 

15. See Chapter IV, note 41. 

16. Goodwin, op. cit., p. 316. 

17. Loc. cit. 

18. See Chapter III, note 36. 

Chapter X 

The Lower County of New Norfolk 


THE AREA WHICH was set off from Elizabeth City County in 1637, 
and which eventually came to be called Lower Norfolk County, has 
a long and interesting history. Situated as it is at the entrance to 
Chesapeake Bay with Cape Henry as the apex of an angle between the 
Atlantic coast and the Bay shore, this land was always the first part of New 
Virginia to be sighted by explorers arriving from the south, and was of 
necessity the closest strand approached by ships entering the Bay, because of 
the proximity of its entrance channel to the Cape. We can picture the ship of 
Verrazzano sailing past these shores between its stops at Cape Fear and Chin- 
coteague in 1524; we can also picture the Spanish vessels of 1570, 1571 and 
1572 entering the Bay by the Cape Henry Channel to bring the Spanish mis- 
sionaries and later returning to seek out their murderers and destroy them.' 

In a previous chapter it was related how Captain Barlowe of Raleigh's 
first expedition of 1584 heard with intense interest of the land to the north 
of Roanoke; how Ralph Lane, though he did not reach our Bay in 1586, told 
of having visited the land of the Chesapeakes, its fertility and mild climate, 
and how he planned to abandon the poor harbor of Roanoke and move his 
colony northward; and how finally the expedition led by John White in 1587 
was intended to settle on Chesapeake Bay but prevented therefrom contrary 
to Sir Walter Raleigh's instructions.^ 

It has likewise been told how the settlers of 1607 made their first landing 
at Cape Henry on 26 April 1607, the third Sunday after Easter, and described 
the tall trees, fresh waters, roasted oysters, sand dunes and hostile natives. 
Here on Wednesday "the nine and twentieth day [of April] we sett up a 
crosse at Chesepiooc Bay, and named that place Cape Henry." Thus exactly 
two weeks before the landing and settlement was made at Jamestown (13 
May), the first English name was formally bestowed in New Virginia. In the 
summer of 1608, the ubiquitous Captain John Smith explored our Elizabeth 
River (then called Chesapeake*), and told of tall pines and cedars on its 

* It is an interesting coincidence that the two most important rivers in Lower Norfolk — which 
gave their names to its two parishes — originally had names which were almost identical. It will be 
recalled (see Chapter IX) that the Lynnhaven was originally called "Chesopean," certainly a dis- 
tortion caused by substitution of an Anglicized suffix: Che-sepi-an for Che-sepi-ack. 


shores. As noted in a previous chapter, some recent investigators have beHeved 
to find evidence of a settlement on the Bay shore near the present Ocean 
Park in about I6IO, but while the physical remains in that place are very 
convincing, the lack of contemporary accounts makes more confirmation neces- 
sary.^ Apparently, no further interest was evinced in this area southeast of 
Hampton Roads until after it became a part of the Borough of Kecoughtan 
(Corporation of Elizabeth City) in 1619. 

It will be recalled that a shipbuilder named John Wood was interested in 
settling on Elizabeth River in 1620, that land grants were made at Seawell's 
Point to Captain William Tucker in 1620, to Captain John Sibsey and Lieu- 
tenant John Cheesman in 1624, and a little later to Captain Thomas Wil- 
loughby at Willoughby's Point. We told in the preceding chapter about the 
land grants here beginning in 1635, the first since 1624, and continuing in 
1636 and 1637. It was pointed out that the first occurrence of the name 
"Norfolk" in Colonial land grant records was in April of 1637.* 

There is not in the Virginia statutes a law separating an area of Elizabeth 
City County and setting it up as the "Lower County of New Norfolk." There 
was an Act of Assembly of 1639/40 establishing the bounds of Isle of Wight, 
Upper Norfolk and Lower Norfolk, and very near that time the County was 
divided into at least two separate parishes, which will be discussed in detail 
later in this chapter. In March, 1642/3, the boundary between the parishes 
was made official, and at the same time the 1639/40 Act was reiterated and 
the boundary between the Upper and Lower Counties of New Norfolk were 
defined. The latter fact is of special interest here, as it was stated that their 
common boundary was "the first creek west of Crayne Point [Craney Island 
now] in no way trenching upon the Western Branch of Elizabeth River nor 
the creeks thereof which belong to the County of Lower Norfolk."' A glance 
at a modern map will show this same creek (now called Hoifler's) from which 
the county line goes very carefully over dry land between the creeks of the 
Western Branch and Nansemond River, and avoids "trenching" upon either. 

Outside of the land office records (patent books), and in the absence of 
early parish records, practically the only source of information of the early 
days lies in the county record books. These consist solely of court records: 
its orders and minutes of proceedings, deeds for land which it permitted to 
be recorded, wills which it admitted to probate, estate inventories and audits 
which it ordered. In this way we learn of an individual's behavior, his pur- 
chases of land and possibly where he lived and when he died, how much real 
and personal property he left and who were his widow and other heirs. Lower 
Norfolk County is especially blessed in its surviving records. It was pointed out 
in an earlier chapter that of all the inferior courts established before the counties, 
only that at Accawmack (Northampton) has records dating back to 1632; 
let it be added here that, of the first eight counties established in 1634, only 


Accawmack (Northampton) — continuing the court records above — and York, 
have their records intact; and o£ the two counties established in 1637 — the 
first subdivision of the original eight — only Lower Norfolk has its records 
practically intact. There are a few gaps in them here and there: a couple of 
years between 1643 and 1645 being the only seventeenth century fault, and a 
few more scattered blanks between 1700 and the Revolution. Thus, the 
Lower Norfolk County records are the only ones m our area of interest — 
among the first ten counties in existence in 1637 — which have their beginning 
back to that time.** 

Since we are so dependent upon the records of the Court for a picture of the 
early life of the county, we should say something about its functions, its 
members and where it met. It has been pointed out elsewhere that the County 
Courts exercised both administrative and judicial functions, and were for many 
years the only units of local government. They were composed of a variable 
number of Justices (called Commissioners, since their appointment was in the 
form of a commission from the Governor) , one of whom was designated as 
"presiding justice" and was usually Commander of the County. The arrange- 
ment of the names in the minutes of the various Courts usually is a clue to 
the identity of the Presiding Justice (or his deputy in case of his absence) 
even if he was not specifically so named. Other officers of the Court were the 
Sheriff and one or more Constables who were charged with enforcing the 
laws and court orders, the Clerk of the Court who had charge of its very 
important records, and the County Lieutenant (counterpart of the Lord 
Lieutenant of Shire in England) usually with the rank of Colonel, com- 
mander of the County Militia, whose chief function in the Colony was waging 
intermittent warfare against the Indians.' A writer of 1697 stated that the 
County Courts were composed of eight or ten country gentlemen with little 
or no education in the law. He reflected regretfully on what had been the state 
of affairs 

... in former times while the first Stock of Virginia Gentlemen lasted, who 
having had their Education in England, were a great deal better accomplish'd 
in the Law, and Knowledge of the World, than their Children and Grand- 
children, who have been born in Virginia, and have had generally no oppor- 
tunity of Improvement by good Education further than that they learned to 
read, write, and cast Accompts [sic'], and that but very indifferently.* 

While the name "Norfolk" occurred in land grants first in April, 1637 — 
giving a clue to the actual time of the county's establishment — the first posi- 
tive knowledge which we have that Lower Norfolk County was operating 
independently, is contained in Book A of its priceless records,® the first entry of 
which reads as follows: 


At a Court houlden in the Lower County of New Norfolke the 15th May 

[Present:} Capt. Adam Thorowgood Esq."' 
Capt. John Sibsey Mr. Francis Mason 

Mr. Edward Windham Mr. Robert Came* 

Mr. William Julian 

The above arrangement of names indicates that Captain Thorowgood was 
Commander and Presiding Justice. It is also clear that, even though the divi- 
sion of the County into two Parishes was not made official until several years 
later, from the very beginning there was recognition of the fact that there were 
two natural divisions and each was represented. Thus it is known from other 
data that Thorowgood, Windham and Camm lived in the east section of the 
County near Lynnhaven, while Sibsey, Julian and Mason lived in the western 
section near Seawell's Point and Elizabeth River. It might be mentioned in 
passing that, in addition to the name used at the first court, the county was 
known variously as "Lower New Norfolk County," the "County of Lower 
Norfolk," and was finally almost universally called "Lower Norfolk County." 
It is not possible in this limited space to list all the prominent citizens who 
served as members of the Court of Lower Norfolk during the half-century 
of its existence. We shall, however, name a few in order to give a cross-section 
of its personnel. On 6 February 1638/9, Thorowgood was absent, but Sibsey 
(apparently acting president), Windham, Julian and Mason were on hand, 
and Henry Seawell replaced Camm. A month later Thorowgood was back (he 
was a member of the Council of State at this time), and with him were Sibsey, 
Julian, Mason and Seawell. On 6 July 1640, Captain Thomas Willoughby 
Esq', was Presiding Justice and Commander, and the other Justices were 
Sibsey, Seawell, Mason, Windham and Julian. Captain Adam Thorowgood 
[I] had died earlier this year.* In 1649 appeared for the first time the soon- 
to-become-prominent name of William Moseley, who continued as a Justice 
until his death in 1655. In October, 1662, the Justices were Colonel Lemuel 
Mason (son of Francis Mason who died in 1648), Captains Adam Thorow- 
good [11], William Moseley [II] and Thomas Fulcher; the first named was 
now Presiding Justice, Thomas Willoughby [I] having died in 1658. In April, 
1671, the same four were Justices, plus two others, Francis Sayer** and 
George Fowler, with Mason still presiding. In August, 1683, with the same 
president appeared an entirely new set of Justices: William Dame, George 
Newton, Henry Spratt and Thomas Hodges; in October of the same year, the 
Justices were Captain William Robinson, George Newton, Malachi Thruston 

* Camm. 

* As noted in another place, Capt. John Gookin was Commander of the Lynnhaven plantation 
in 1642/3. 

** Written variously Sawyer, Sawer, and more modernly, Syer. 


and Henry Spratt.'" This will serve to acquaint the reader with some of the 
prominent names of the County, until — by its division in April, 1691 — it 
ceased to exist. It must be noted that no attempt has been made to determine 
the first and last meeting of the Court attended by any one of these indivi- 
duals; tlie sessions mentioned were simply chosen at random in order to give 
a continuous representative cross-section from 1637 to 1691. 

As to the other officers of the Court, the first we know of were mentioned 
on 15 July 1640, when "Mr. Sawer"* was sworn in as Sheriff and Henry 
Hawkins, as Constable. In March, 1646, Lieutenant Francis Mason qualified as 
Sheriff, and in August, 1660, Richard Conquest held the office. Colonel Lemuel 
Mason was Sheriff from 1664 to 1668, and likewise Ensign Thomas Lambert 
of Lambert's Point at an undetermined time." In the earliest records, the 
name of the Clerk was not always indicated; one of the first names in that 
office that this writer has seen was on a document of 1 February 1657/8'" 
which was signed: 

Test: Tho. Bridge 
CI Cur Norfl Infer 

This illustrates the customary abbreviations of the legal Latin terms: teste 
[signature] clertcus curiae Norfolk Inferioris, "witness [signature] clerk of 
the court of Lower Norfolk.'' In fact, these early clerks of court were very 
fond of displaying thus their legal education. An agreement of later date'^ 
was headed: 

Recordat[um] 15° die Augusti 1665 
(recorded on the 15th day of August, 1665) 
and ended thus: 

Recordat[um] die & A.° suprdcis [supradictis.''] 
p. me Willm. Jermy Clericus 
(recorded on the day and in the year above-said 
by me William Jermy Clerk of the Court). 

The best known of our seventeenth century clerks of the court was William 
Porten, who first entered upon the duties of the office on 18 February 
1668/9'^ and continued to serve until his death nearly twenty-five years later. 
His handwriting has become so familiar to researchers in the County Clerk's 
Office (now in Portsmouth) that we give a sample of it here, including his 

* Probably Thomas Sawyer (Sayer), who lived at what is now Lovetts Poi 



' ' 


, . x^.^ ^^ ^, -a 

s ■ / 

•' y' ^«. <->...^ ^'^'23- - 

■" - 

>,v'/;.v ,\j 

iv-* — 


In speaking of the legal activities of this early period, it is appropriate to 
mention an Act of Assembly of 1663, which required the several County 
Courts to provide themselves with the following Law reference books: 

The Statutes at Large 

Dalton, Justice of the Peace and Office of a Sheriff 

Swinburn, Book of Wills and Testaments 

There was some delay in Lower Norfolk in meeting this requirement, but 
on 18 April 1671, there was recorded a letter from the Justices addressed to 
one of their number on the occasion of his going to England, requesting that 
he obtain the above three books. This request was at least partially complied 
with: in the first complete inventory of the Books of Record and other paper 
in the Clerk's ofiice, taken on 17 March 1692/3 on the occasion of the death 
of William Porten, the first two volumes mentioned appear, but Swinburn's 
was not then in the Clerk's Office, it seems/^ 

In what has gone before, many individuals have been given military rank 
or title preceding their names. These titles were not lightly or indiscriminately 
assumed as such titles are frequently nowadays, but proceeded from appoint- 
ments and commissions in His Majesty's* Colonial Militia for Virginia. A 
word should be said about it at this point. It was mentioned previously that 
the Militia in each county was headed by a County Lieutenant, counterpart 
of the Lord Lieutenant of Shire in England. It was composed of all able- 
bodied white, male citizens between the ages of sixteen and sixty, for whom 
this service was compulsory. The Governor was titular head of the Colonial 
Militia with the rank of Lieutenant General (in very early seventeenth 

* Or Her Majesty's or Their Majesties', as the case may be. 


century frequently called Captain General), and he appointed the County 
Lieutenants (with the rank of Colonel), their deputies (with the rank of 
Lieutenant-Colonel), and, in the case of counties with distant inaccessible 
areas, sub-deputies (with the rank of Major). In each County there were 
one or more Companies of Foot, Lighthorse and Dragoons with the usual 
officers over them (Captains, Lieutenants and Ensigns), commissioned by the 
Governor on the recommendation of the County Lieutenant. A general 
muster was held in each County once a year, and in the individual companies 
and troops, three or four times annually;^'' a Clerk of the Militia was ap- 
pointed to keep record of the musters, who, in at least one case we know 
of in Lower Norfolk, happened to be the County Surveyor, John Ferebee 
(1680)." The above rank structure was theoretical only and not always 
strictly adhered to; for instance, Adam Thorowgood, Presiding Justice and 
Commander of Lower Norfolk County, qualified as Captain of Militia at its 
first meeting on 15 May 1637. It is possible he was County Lieutenant too, 
though this is not certain. On the same date, John Sibsey also qualified as 
Captain. Some other early militia officers here were Francis Mason, qualifying 
as Lieutenant on 20 March 1639/40, Thomas Willoughby as Captain on 
16 December 1643, and Edward Windham, also as Captain on 16 January 
1645/6.^* It is to be assumed the formality of qualifying consisted of pro- 
ducing the commission and taking the oath of office "in open court." In 
many instances there is no record preserved of an individual's qualifying, and 
we know his rank only from its use along with his name: such is the case 
with the Justices in 1662, Colonel Lemuel Mason, Captain William Moseley 
[II], Captain Adam Thorowgood [II] and Captain Thomas Fulcher." Colonel 
Mason apparently was County Lieutenant until Lower Norfolk County was 
divided (1691), and during at least part of that time his second in command 
was Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Willoughby [II] who died in 1672. It 
should be noted here also that Adam Thorowgood [II], who died in 1686, 
was, likewise known as Colonel: this may mean that there were two com- 
manders of the militia here, one for each of the parishes into which the 
County was early divided.^ It is interesting to note that a prominent Isle of 
Wight citizen, Colonel Joseph Bridger, was in 1680 given the rank of Major 
General and made Commander of Militia for all the southern counties: 
Isle of Wight, Surry, Lower Norfolk and Nansemond. 

Having told something of the County Court and of the Justices which 
composed it, we shall proceed to tell where its sessions were held. During 
the first quarter century of its existence, the Lower Norfolk County Court 
had no permanent seat: there is no hint in the early records of a Court House 
having been built before 1661. In these early years, the Court sessions — like 
church services before a church was built, as will later appear — were held 
in private houses. It is surmised, in the absence of definite knowledge, that 


the first court of 13 May 1637 was held at Captain Adam Thorowgood's 
house on Lynnhaven River, though some say it was held just across the 
Western Branch on what is now Little Neck Point, then the Glebe Land. 
Thereafter its meeting place was sometimes specified and sometimes not; 
in the records it is noted that the Court met successively at William Shipp's 
Thomas Lambert's or Thomas Mears' (all on Elizabeth River), and at 
Savill Gaskin's at Lynnhaven, or simply "att Linhaven," which probably 
meant Thorowgood's or the Glebe Land.-^ This alternation almost follows 
a pattern, as if Court were being held in one parish one month and in the 
other parish the next; but it cannot be said that this rule was strictly fol- 
lowed. As early as 6 July 1640, court was held at William Shipp's and there- 
after with increasing frequency his place appears as the seat of the Court. 
For reasons which will more amply appear later, William Shipp is believed 
to have lived on Elizabeth River; he was keeper of an "ordinary" or tavern, 
a convenient place for the accommodation of Justices and others who had 
business with the Court. In fact in May, 1646, it was ordered by the Justices 
that sessions be held at Shipp's exclusively;*- this probably was intended 
so to restrict only the alternate meetings on Elizabeth River, for sessions 
were still held occasionally at Lynnhaven as well, before the Court House 
was built. 

The Assembly of March, 1654/5,^^ passed a law entitled "An Act for 
Regulating Trade and Establishing Ports and Places for Markets." This law 
was the first step toward establishing towns in the Colony, but it is inter- 
esting at this point chiefly because of its provisions concerning the County 
Court. It stipulated that ports and market places should be established in 
each parish on a river, and that within these sites should be located the 
County Court, the clerk's office, the Sheriff's office and the prison; the Justices 
were further enjoined to "endeavor to have meeting places or churches and 
ordinaries for entertainment and lodging within the same." Very soon after 
the Acts of this Assembly were published, the Lower Norfolk County Court 
complied with the provisions above-mentioned by a Court Order of 16 July 
1655, reading in part as follows: 

Uppon the land of Mr. William Shipp on Elizabeth River to be the place for 
both Church and Market for Elizabeth River Parish, two myles in length 
Northward and Southward and noe further . . . Uppon the land or plantation 
of William Johnson, being Mistress Yardley's land scituate on Linhaven River 
to be the place for both Church and Market for Linhaven Parish, two myles 
in length Northward & Southward and no further ...-■* 

Thus a place was provided for a Court House in each parish, and there is no 
doubt that they would have been built — together with shelters for the ac- 
tivities subsidiary to the Court — had not this Act for Ports and Markets been 


repealed in 1656. The locations of these two proposed sites can be approxi- 
mately defined: William Shipp's, being "on Elizabeth River" (not on its 
Eastern, Western or Southern Branch) had to be between its wide mouth — 
Craney Island to Tanner's Creek or Lambert's Point — and where it divided 
into its Eastern and Southern Branches; that would probably be on the north 
side between Lambert's Point and what later became Town Point (the west 
end of Main Street, Norfolk). Mistress Yeardley was widow of both Adam 
Thorowgood and John Gookin, and this was probably part of the land of 
her first husband on the west side of Lynnliaven River, possibly near the 
first parish church; William Johnson, judging by the wording of the Court 
Order, may have been her tenant. 

It is to be supposed that the Court continued to rotate between Lynnhaven 
and Elizabeth River for the next few years, and then on 16 January, 1660/1, 
it was ordered that a Court House — the first in Lower Norfolk County — be 
erected at Thomas Harding's plantation on Broad Creek. This was the most 
central location that could have been chosen, exactly on the dividing line 
between the two parishes. This site, containing two hundred acres, was 
deeded to the County by Harding on 15 November 1661, but its bounds 
were so vaguely given that it cannot be located with exactitude. It is not 
to be doubted that the Court House was built about this time."^ 

The Court House on Broad Creek was probably not of permanent con- 
struction; it may have been a frame structure on cobble or brick foundation 
like so many buildings, public and private, in the early days of the Colony. 
There must have been some idea of replacing as early as 1687; the County 
Levy of 19 November that year has an item of 10,000 pounds of tobacco 
"for the building a Court house and prison,"-* but nothing more seems to 
have come of the matter at that time. Then we learn of the real state of 
affairs when, on 7 September 1689,^^ the Court handed down an order con- 
taining in substance the following information: that the Court House was 
"very Ruinous and past Repayres;" that a proposal had been made to erect 
a new one; and that, in order to expedite legal business in Elizabeth River, 
and for the convenience of those in Lynnhaven, it was ordered two Court 
Houses be erected, one in the Town of Lower Norfolk County* on Elizabeth 
River and the other on Edward Cooper's land near the first Eastern Shore 
Chapel in Lynnhaven. This court order also gave detailed specifications for 
the two buildings: the one on Elizabeth River was to be 35' x 20' and 10' 
high at the eaves, with two rooms (the larger 20' x 20'), two chimneys and 
fireplaces, an upper room under the eaves, and a cellar; there was also to be 
a separate brick prison 15' square; the one at Lynnhaven was to be of frame 
construction 25' x 20' but not further described. It is obvious from the above 

* Founded in 1680, one of twenty then provided for; this is a separate story, which will be 
related in detail later. 

Va. 16 


that the Court House in town was the principal one, while the one at 
Lynnliaven was secondary or subsidiary to it, a logical development since 
there was to be only one town in the County. The statement, in this order, 
that the subsidiary Court House was to be on Edward Cooper's land "nighe 
the Chapell of Ease in the Eastern Shore of Linhaven" locates it definitely 
on Wolf Snare, a creek flowing into Lynnhaven River just north of London 
Bridge. As to the principal Court House which was to be built in town, 
there is no evidence that it was even begun while Lower Norfolk County 
was still in existence. The County Levy of 18 November 1690 shows that 
James Joseling was then paid "for clearing the Court House field,"^* evidently 
referring to the town lot set aside for this purpose; however, there is no 
record of a building there until after the County was divided in 1691, and 
that will be related in a later chapter. Mason states that the other Court 
House was erected in 1689, as is witnessed by the fact that, three years later, 
it was taken down and its timbers hauled by boat and cart to be rebuilt on 
a site adjacent to the second Lynnhaven Parish Church on the Western 
Branch of the River. We can only surmise that the Court House at Harding's 
on Broad Creek, dilapidated as it was, continued to serve as principal 
Court House for the County until its division. 

The established Church in Lower Norfolk County followed the same 
pattern as that noted in the County's predecessor, the Corporation and 
County of Elizabeth City; a parish was established contemporary and co- 
terminous with the County and was later subdivided for convenience. Whether 
or not we accept the theory of the existence of New Norfolk County and 
Parish — the latter served from 1635 to 1637 by two ministers — there is no 
room for doubt that a parish was established coterminous with Lower 
Norfolk County in 1637, which was within two or three years subdivided 
into two independent parishes. 

It will be recalled from the preceding chapter that Reverend William 
Wilkinson was living at Lynnhaven from 1635 to 1637, and that Reverend 
George White of Nansemond River was paid for officiating in Elizabeth 
River in 1637. It is evident that neither of these ministers carried over 
into the beginnings of Lower Norfolk, for in its very first court minutes of 
15 May 1637, we learn that Reverend John Wilson* of Elizabeth River was 
minister, possibly for the whole county. Thus it is seen that a minister had 
been provided for Lower Norfolk by the Governor early in 1637 before its 
Court first met, and there is evidence, also, the Council of State had ordered 
a church to be built there "in the upper p[recin}ct** of this County" at the 
same time. Before the church was built, services were held at Thorowgood's 
house on Lynnhaven River and at Sibsey's on Seawell's Point, and in May, 

* Probably an Oxonian; Goodwin says there were several by this name. 
** The one farthest from the coast. 


1638, there is mention of the "Parish Church of the Lower Norfolk [Par- 
ish?]," which, by November of that year, was still unfinished. John Sibsey 
and Henry Seawell were appointed to see to its completion, a clear in- 
dication of its location. About a year later, on 18 October 1639, the records 
mention "the Parish Church at Linnhaven;" this, we believe, marks the 
approximate time of the division of the parish, otherwise this would not 
have been called a parish church but a "chapel of ease," a term which will 
be explained below.-" Be that as it may, by late 1640 the appointment of 
governing bodies was recorded, from which it is clearly mdicated that the 
original Lower Norfolk Parish had been divided, and its lower precinct named 
Lynnhaven Parish, its upper one Elizabeth River Parish. From this point on 
their stories will be told separately. 

The Reverend Mr. Wilson evidently did not long survive (if at all) the 
separate establishment of Elizabeth River Parish. A court order of 25 May 
1640^** records the appointment of the Reverend Thomas Harrison, and the 
arrangements for his annual stipend of £100 give some fairly accurate 
details as to sites of individual land holdings at that time. Here is how the 
salary was to be paid: 

Amount: For the Inhabitants: To be paid by: 

£32-10-0 From Capt. Willoughby's Capt. John Sibsey 

plantation to Daniel Tanner's Lieut. Francis Mason 

Creek [Lafayette River] Mr. Henry Seawell 

£33-0-0 Of the Western Branch Mr. Cornelius Lloyd 

and Craney Point Mr. Henry Gatlin 

Mr. John Hill 
£36-0-0 Of the Eastern and Mr. William Julian 

Southern Branches Mr. John Gotear 

Ens. Thomas Lambert 
Mr. Thomas Sawyer 
Mr. Thomas Meare 
Mr. John Watkins 

Many names which are well known today can be recognized in this list: 
Willoughby Spit, Mason's Creek, Tanner's Creek, Seawell's Point, Lambert's 
Point, Craney Island. Others are not quite so obvious: Julian's Creek, flowing 
into the Southern Branch from the west, is now corrupted to St. Julien's 
Creek; Sawyer's Point is now better known as Lovett's Point, on the west 
side of the mouth of the Western Branch; "Watkins' Land" was, in 1644, 
the name of the tract, part of which became the site of Norfolk Town in 
1680. It is amusing that the county fathers had difficulty in dividing £100 
accurately into three parts! 

In this same court order of 25 May 1640, there is another circumstance 


of great historical importance. Now, for the first time there is a direct reference 
to the location of the parish church "at Mr. Seawell's Pointe," thus con- 
firming its clearly implied location in the records of May, 1638. It was 
further noted that there was a disagreement among the inhabitants of the 
Parish, in that those living from Tanner's Creek up the three branches of 
Elizabeth River, did not think it right that they should pay two-thirds of 
the minister's salary, unless he should teach and instruct them as often as 
he preached at the Parish Church at Seawell's Point, which was not of easy 
access to them. The difficulty was solved by an agreement among the 

That the sd minister shall teach evie [sic] other Sunday amongst the inhabi- 
tants of Elizabeth River at the house of Robert Glascocke until a convenient 
church be built and erected there ... at the charge of the inhabitants of Eliza- 
beth River before the first of May ensuinge.^^ 

Just where this secondary church was will be discussed below. 

Meanwhile, little progress was being made toward completing the Sea- 
well's Point church, and various arguments and recriminations concerning it 
found their way into the court proceedings in the form of witnesses' deposi- 
tions. On 6 July 1640,®" Thomas Bullock, the master builder, said that 
Edward Lillie had been at his house talking about Edward Hayes concerning 
the church. Lillie said Hayes had berated Bullock and Mr. Burroughs and 
William Davis, all of whom were builders (including Lillie), except Hayes, 
who — it seems — contracted to furnish the building materials. Hayes said they 
were all "a company of Jackanapesses & had nothing but a littell Chimnie 
Corner Law amongst them," and Hayes persuaded them to loaf on the job. 
On the same date, Jacob Bradshaw (probably another laborer) said that, in 
a conversation at Hayes's house, the latter asked Lillie why he did not get 
on with the church building, and Lillie blamed the delay on the lack of 
nails and other ironwork. Hayes supplied the nails and told him to hire 
"Christopher* the Joyner" for a month and offered to help himself. 

On 15 July 1640,^^ Francis Mason and Thomas Meare were appointed 
the first churchwardens of Elizabeth River Parish, but there is no indication 
that there were any additional appointees to form a vestry, as was the case 
in Lynnhaven. On 15 March 1640/1,^* a court order furnishes the information 
that the church building had been completed. It was probably of brick con- 
struction, judging by the slowness of its completion and from the fact that 
the bricks had to be transported by boat from Kecoughton. Edward Hayes, 
the supplier, had been unable to obtain "a thousand of brick" because of the 
death of the brickmaker, Nicholas Wright. On account of the construction 

* This name in the record was written "X pofer," which has been frequently misread; the first 
two letters are chi and rho, Greek letters used to abbreviate the first syllable "Christ — ." 


activities of the United States Navy and the Virginian Railway in the Seawell's 
Point area, it is impossible to determine exactly where this first parish church 
was. It will be recalled that Captain William Tucker's tract of six hundred 
and fifty acres, patented in 1620 on Seawell's Point, passed to John Sibsey 
before 1633, the latter having patented another tract of two hundred and 
fifty acres adjoining to the south. Likewise a part (150 acres) of the Tucker 
tract on the Point itself was sold by Sibsey to Henry Seawell at an un- 
determined time, probably before 1637. The fact that Sibsey and Seawell were 
to oversee the building of the church in 1638, and that the building was 
specifically stated to be 'at Mr. Seawell's Pointe" in 1640, make it clear that 
it was precisely on the point, somewhere inside the present United States 
Naval Base, not far from its main gate (Gate 2). 

The secondary church on Elizabeth River was evidently completed in 
accordance with instructions by 1 May 1641; on 2 May, it was referred to 
as being in existence and was then called a "chapel of ease."^^ At that time 
it was ordered by the Court that a vestry should be held only for the 
church at Seawell's Point and not for the chapel "which was a chapel of 
ease and no parish church." The function of the "chapel of ease" is best 
described in the words of Beverley written in 1705: 

If a parish be of greater extent than ordinary, it hath generally a chappel of 
ease; and some of the parishes have two such chappels, besides the Church, 
for the greater convenience of the parishioners. In these chappels the minister 
preaches alternately, always leaving a Reader, to read Prayers and a Homily, 
when he can't attend himself. ^^ 

As to the location of the Elizabeth River Chapel, it has not been de- 
termined beyond a reasonable doubt. From the wording of the court order of 
25 May 1640, it was certainly at or near Robert Glascocke's house; this 
must have been on a tract of land for which no patent has survived, for 
the only two patents of Glascocke's on record are his 1635 grant for two 
hundred acres adjoining Cheesman,* and his 1639 grant for fifty acres on 
the Western Branch.^" Neither of these could have been described as being 
on Elizabeth River. 

A deposition of 28 December 1654 is here quoted in full as a possible 
clue to the mystery: 

John Marshall aged 42 yeares or thereabouts sworne and examined saith that 
he this deponent was at the house of William Shipp which was formerly the 
house of Robert Glascocke at the time when the said Glascocke went out upon 
a march whoe did not return agayne, and the said Glascocke did at the time 
bring the said Shipp the pattent of the land where the said Shipp did then 

* It will be recalled that Cheesman adjoined Sibsey, who adjoined Tucker at Seawell's Point, 
so Glascocke here could not have been south of Tanner's Creek. 


live and the said Sliipp did say that the pattent would doe him noe good with- 
out an assignment, the said Glascocke did say that if there were any there that 
could Wright [sic} he would assign it presently otherwise he would assign it 
when he came home agayne and further this deponent saithe Glascocke did 
acknowledge that he had received full satisfaction from the said land and fur- 
ther saith not.^* 

The events related here must have happened several years earlier, and the 
sale of the land in question, even earlier still; Shipp was thus attempting 
to establish a clear title to the land he had previously bought when it was 
evident that Glascocke had met with some mishap and had disappeared, 
never to return. The reader is reminded of the Act of March, 1654/5, and 
the details of its provisions. In July, 1655, as previously noted, the Lower 
Norfolk County Court, in designating William Shipp's land "on Elizabeth 
River" as the place for church and market in this parish, was simply choosing 
a site where there was already a chapel, the former land of Robert Glascocke, 
which Shipp bought from him at an undetermined time. We have already 
given our reasons for believing that the Court House site chosen at this time 
was between Lambert's Point and Town Point: the same is true of the 
Elizabeth River Chapel which must have been at the same place. There are 
those who argue that the Chapel was on the site later to become Norfolk 
Town, on a lot now occupied by St. Paul's P. E. Church. That site never 
had any remote connection with Glascocke or Shipp; its owners are well- 
known from 1636 on, as will be given in more detail later. 

By Act of Assembly of March, 1642/3,'^'' the division of Lower Norfolk 
County into parishes (a fact since 1639 or 1640) was made official and 
firm. This act ostensibly recited the bounds of Lynnhaven Parish, but is 
mentioned here, since by the same token it gave the bounds of Elizabeth 
River Parish. As was usual in that day, the line was not clearly laid down 
in modern surveying terms, but as best as can be determined from its obscure 
wording and from our later knowledge, it ran as follows: beginning at 
the mouth of Little Creek in Chesapeake Bay (the present railway and 
vehicular ferry terminal for Cape Charles), running up the main branch of 
Little Creek past the Municipal Airport to Lake Wright (which was then 
the head of Broad Creek) , thence to the head of the Western Branch of 
Lynnhaven River (the part now called Thalia Creek), thence to the head of 
the Eastern Branch of Elizabeth River (present Kempsville), thence on both 
sides of that branch to Broad Creek and Indian Creek (now Indian River). 
This act of 1642/3 ends with a curious proviso: 

Provided it be not prejudiciall to the parishes of Elizabeth River and Southern 
Shoare by takeing away any part of the said parishes . . . 


It is here implied that there was a third division of the County, Southern 
Shore Parish, though there is no mention of it elsewhere. This is partially 
confirmed by the Court minutes of 6 July 1640: here we learn for the first 
time that the Reverend John Wilson was dead,* and details are also given 
of the difficulties he had in his lifetime in collecting the tithes due him, 
and consequently in satisfying his own creditors.''*' In order to accomplish 
the latter, the Court ordered Savell Gaskin to "collect ye said Corne of all 
such p[er}Sonns as owe any tithes to ye Parrsorune Willson excepting Mr. 
Mears and Mr. Sawer who have pd there tithes to Mr. Powes, Clark, for 
the last yeare." Since Mears and Sawyer were among those agreeing to pay 
Parson Harrison's salary two months earlier for the inliabitants on the 
Eastern and Southern Branches, it is safe to assume that the Reverend 
Robert Powis (so known from other records) was minister of Southern 
Shore Parish, which was (as its name implies) on the south bank of the 
Eastern Branch of Elizabeth River, and he had evidently been there since 
mid-1639, another confirmation of the division of the county at that time. 
We even have evidence of an early church building in the locality: a grant 
of 1649 to Richard Whitehurst mentions a Church Creek, the first stream 
flowing into Eastern Branch, east of Indian River.*^ The fact that this site 
fell into Lynnhaven Parish in 1642/3, explains the early disappearance of 
Southern Shore Parish and its probable division at Indian River between 
Elizabeth River and Lynnhaven Parishes. 

A court order of 20 February 1644/5 required Matthew Phillips, ad- 
ministrator for Mrs. Seawell, deceased, to pay one thousand pounds of 
tobacco to the Reverend Thomas Harrison for the burial and preaching the 
funeral sermon of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Seawell, deceased, and for breaking 
ground in the Chancel for their graves.*^ This order not only gives the 
approximate death date of the Seawells, but also adds an interesting side- 
light on the minister's duties in this pioneer community. Only two months 
later when the Court met in April, 1645, Matthew Phillips, in his official 
capacity as one of the churchwardens (the other being Thomas Ivey), found 
it his duty to present [accuse] Mr. Harrison for failure to read the Book of 
Common Prayer, to administer the Sacrament of Baptism according to the 
canons, and to catechize on Sunday afternoons "according to the Act of 
Assembly."** This, we believe, was the time of Harrison's turning Puritan, 
not in 1648 as stated by Goodwin. A brief digression on church history might 
not be out of place here. 

At the time of the Virginia settlement (1607), the separation of the 
Church of England from the Roman Church was less than a century old 
(1534). In the latter part of the sixteenth century, there had grown up a 

♦ It was implied, of course, two months earlier when the Rev. Mr. Harrison was engaged. 


feeling in England — reflected, of course, in the Colony later — that there had 
not been sufficient divergence from the Roman Church; this Puritan move- 
ment (as it was called) ultimately led to the rise of a number of dissenting 
denominations (Presbyterians, Baptists, and — much later — Methodists). This 
was part and parcel of the events leading up to the beginning of the Civil 
War in England (1642), and the eventual Puritan triumph and temporary 
overthrow of the monarchy (1649). In fact, in the midst of the Roundhead 
Rebellion, Presbyterianism became the legal form of ecclesiastical government 
in the Church of England (1646).^* This means that the individual church 
was governed by a presbyter (priest or minister), as opposed to the Episcopal 
form of government, in which a diocese was under jurisdiction of an 
episcopiis or bishop. Thus in Virginia at this period, when a minister was 
disciplmed or dismissed for being a Presbyterian or a Puritan, this indicated 
a reluctance on the part of our forebears to bow to the new order, and their 
loyalty to the tottering monarcliy and the former system of church gov- 

The Reverend Thomas Harrison was from Yorkshire, matriculated at 
Cambridge in 1634 at the age of sixteen, and was graduated B.A. in 
1637/8; one source says he was also later a Doctor of Divinity, but this has 
not been confirmed. After his dismissal from Elizabeth River Parish, which 
apparently took place in 1645, he went to Boston where he was more 
welcome as a Puritan, and then to England and is said to have died in 
Dublin in 1682." 

It seems Harrison was succeeded in Elizabeth River Parish by Reverend 
Robert Powis,*® previously mentioned, who had been in Lynnhaven since its 
absorption of Southern Shore Parish after 1642/3, and probably since the 
death of Parson Wilson in 1640. Powis continued to serve both parishes until 
1648, when a separate minister was again assigned to Elizabeth River in 
the person of the Reverend William Durand. The latter matriculated at 
Exeter College, Oxford, in 1640, at the age of sixteen; he remained only 
a short time in Elizabeth River and he also was dismissed as a Puritan.'" 
He was followed by the Reverend Sampson Calvert of St. Edmund's Hall, 
Oxford, B.A. (1624/25); Mr. Calvert's stay was short also, and he was 
dismissed for personal misconduct and immorality."** Again Elizabeth River 
Parish was without a separate parson, and was probably again served with 
Lynnhaven by Mr. Powis from 1649 until his death in 1651. At this time 
both parishes fell vacant for a few years. 

About this time, the spreading of settlement in Elizabeth River Parish 
necessitated additional "chapels of ease" for the convenience of those distant 
from the parish church. The first such chapel is evidenced by a grant of 
1653 to Richard Pinner for land on the Western Branch "between the two 
branches of Church Creek," as we have seen, a favorite name for such a 


watercourse. This Western Branch Chapel was on the north side of the 
Branch near an early ferry, and where the present Atlantic Coast Line 
Railway bridge crosses it; in fact, the bricks of its foundation are said to have 
been dug up during the bridge's construction.'"' 

The second chapel built at this time was known as Tanner's Creek 
Chapel. It was erected between 1659 and I66I, at the head of a branch 
of Mason's Creek, later called Thelaball's Creek, and was at the angle of 
the Virginian Railway's line to Seawell's Point and its branch line to the 
present United States Army Sub-Port of Embarkation. Not too long ago 
(within the last fifty or sixty years), its brick foundation could be seen, 
but has now completely disappeared.^** Since this site was only three miles 
from the original Parish Church at Seawell's Point, the question arises as to 
why a chapel of ease was required. The answer lies in the court order of 
1655 designating William Shipp's plantation on Elizabeth River as a place 
for Court, Market and Church for the parish. Even though the law on 
which this was based was repealed in 1656, it was evidently recognized that 
the Elizabeth River site was more logical and convenient, and a new parish 
church was built there between 1655 and 1659. Then when the Tanner's 
Creek Chapel was completed in I66I, the first parish church, probably in 
very dilapidated condition, must have been abandoned. 

The third Elizabeth River Parish chapel was the Southern Branch Chapel. 
It is said to have been built in 1662, and was referred to indirectly in a 
grant of 1664 to William Carver for land said to be on the Southern Branch 
near another Church Creek. ^^ This was on the east side of the Branch and 
probably between two tidal streams now called Jones Creek and Scuffletown 
Creek; it is impossible to determine at this distance which one of these — if 
either — was Church Creek. 

We have no certain knowledge of ministers in Elizabeth River Parish at 
this time, but the Reverend Philip Mallory was serving Lynnhaven Parish 
in 1657. Mallory was of a distinguished ecclesiastical family, being son of 
a Dean of Chester Cathedral and grandson (on the distaff side) of a Bishop 
of Chester. He matriculated at Saint Mary's Hall in 1634 at the age of 
seventeen, and was graduated B.A. (1637) and M.A. (1639/40) from 
Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was chaplain of the House of Burgesses 
in 1658 and 1659. He returned to England in 1661, in which year he died.°- 
Parson Mallory probably officiated in Elizabeth River also in 1657. The 
Reverend George Alford may similarly have officiated here in 1658, in which 
year he also was in Lynnhaven. He was B.A. (1632) of Exeter College, 
Oxford.^^ The Reverend Edward Anthony is said to have been minister in 
Elizabeth River Parish in I666, but his name is not listed by Goodwin.^* 

Following a gap of a dozen or so years, we are on more certain ground 
with the next incumbent. A document headed "[Ju]ne the 30th I68O, A 


List of the Parishes in Virginia," the first such record extant, shows that the 
minister of Ehzabeth River Parish, Lower Norfolk County, was Mr. William 
Kern.^^ Just how long he was here before, or how long he remained after 
that date, has not been determined. 

The next parish minister in Elizabeth River was the Reverend Josias 
Mackie,* who has had considerable notice from former writers on the subject, 
but only as pastor of a dissenting and non-conformist congregation. A careful 
reading of later records will show beyond all shadow of doubt that Mr. 
Mackie was the regularly engaged and ofiicially appointed parish mmister. 
We refer to Princess Anne County Court record of 4 October 1699^* con- 
cerning the registering of non-conformist congregations in the County, in 
which record the following information is clearly stated: that Mr. Mackie, 
"a presbyterian minister non conforming in part (viz'.) as to Rites and Cere- 
monies," had been formerly "Entertained [paid or supported} and officiated 
as minister of the Gospell in Elizabeth River Parish" by permission of the 
former Governor, Francis Lord Howard of Effingham, until he was dis- 
charged by Governor Francis Nicholson prior to August of 1692. Effingham's 
term as Governor was from 1684 to 1688, and Nicholson's first term was 
1690 to 1692; Parson Mackie, a partial non-conformist, was therefore minister 
of Elizabeth River Parish from as early as 1684 to possibly 1691 or 1692. 
After the Restoration in 1660, the Act of Uniformity of 1662 required all 
non-conforming ministers to conform or be ejected, and some two thousand 
of them were so separated from the church at that time (some sources say 
they "seceded"). Mr. Mackie's non-conformist views could not have been 
considered very radical, for him to have been regularly engaged and officially 
appointed parish minister so long after the Act of Uniformity. 

The history of Elizabeth River Parish after April, 1691, is part of the 
history of the then-established Norfolk County and will be continued in the 
chapter under that heading. We shall now pass on to the story of the other 
principal division of Lower Norfolk, Lynnhaven Parish, from 1637 to 1691- 

As previously pointed out, there was a minister- — Reverend William 
Wilkinson — at Lynnhaven between 1635 and 1637, and church services were 
being held at Adam Thorowgood's house as early as May, 1637. However, 
it does not seem likely that Lower Norfolk Parish (coterminous with Lower 
Norfolk County) was divided into separate parishes until 1639; in October 
of that year there was mention of a parish church at Lynnhaven, which, 
coupled with record of a parish church at Seawell's Point in May, 1638, 
makes it clear that the division had been accomplished .°' For under ec- 
clesiastical law, a parish could not have more than one parish church, any 
others in existence being called "chapels of ease." It is not clear who the 

* Was this pronounced as if spelled "McKee"? Possibly, but not probably. He was from St. 
Johnston, County Donegal. 


first minister of Lynnhaven Parish was, but in the absence of information to 
the contrary, it may be assumed that Reverend John Wilson of Elizabeth 
River, only known minister in Lower Norfolk in 1637, may have served both 
Elizabeth River and Lynnhaven from their separate establishment in 1639 
until his death in 1640. The fact that SaviU Gaskin of Lynnhaven was con- 
cerned in collecting Parson Wilson's tithes lends some weight to this theory. 
We have seen that Reverend Robert Powis was minister of Southern Shore 
Parish in 1639, and we believe he became minister also of Lynnhaven when 
Parson Wilson died in 1640, since his Southern Shore church was in the 
area absorbed by Lynnhaven after 1642/3. Mr. Powis thus continued to 
officiate in Lynnhaven, occasionally serving Elizabeth River when that parish 
was vacant, until his death in December, 1651; his will showed he left a 
widow, Mary, and a son, Robert. °"'' 

The first governing body for Lynnhaven Parish was appointed nearly three 
weeks after the churchwardens were named for Elizabeth River. In the court 
minutes for 3 August 1640^** appears the following: 

Churchwardens for the p[ar]ishe of Linhaven 

Mr. Thomas Todd 
Mr. John Stratton 

The names of the vestry of aforesd p{ar]ishe 

Mr. Edward Windham Mr. Thomas Bullock* 

Mr. Henry Woodhouse Mr. Thomas Caussonne 

Mr. Bartholomew Hosskine Ens. Thomas Keeling 

Mr. Thomas Todd Mr. Robert Hayes 

Mr. Christopher Burroughs* Mr. John Lanckfield 

The first Lynnhaven Parish Church was built on Adam Thorowgood's 
land on a point on the west side of Lynnhaven River — ever since known as 
Church Point — just to the north of the still-standing Thorowgood House; 
the latter was not, as will later appear, Thorowgood's principal resi- 
dence. Like Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven Parish was of such extent that 
several "chapels of ease" were required for the convenience of those living 
in inaccessible localities. Undoubtedly, the first of these must have been the 
former Southern Shore Parish Church, which may well have become the 
first Eastern Branch Chapel of Lynnhaven Parish when it fell within its 
boundary in 1642/3.°* It was probably replaced by a new chapel first 
mentioned in the records of 15 October 1660®** in law suit by Adam Thorow- 
good [II}, probably as churchwarden, against Henry Snail, a builder (and 
one of Thomas Lambert's sons-in-law), for his delay in completing a frame 
chapel which he had agreed to erect. It is known from later evidence that 

* It will be recalled that Bullock and Burroughs were concerned with the building of Elizabeth 
River Parish Church. 


this was the "chapel for the Eastern Branch precinct" [of Lynnhaven Parish], 
and its location was due north of the former Eastern Branch Chapel, across 
the Eastern Branch where the village of New Town was later to be placed. 
As to the first Eastern Shore Chapel, the reader is referred back to the 
minutes of 7 September, 1689,^^ in which a secondary court house was ordered 
to be built "nighe the Chapell of Ease in the Eastern Shore of Linhaven." 
This was in the Eastern Shore Precinct of Lynnhaven Parish, so called be- 
cause it was on the east side of the Lynnhaven River and its Eastern Branch. 
The Eastern Branch Chapel (and its predecessor, the old Southern Shore 
Church) and the Eastern Shore Chapel were the only two Chapels of ease 
in Lynnhaven Parish prior to the division of the county in 1691. 

There is a curious story about the fate of the first Lynnhaven Parish 
Church which should be related here for what it is worth. This story has 
been over the years so thoroughly cloaked in legend, tradition and confusion, 
that it is difficult for a conscientious historian to decide between truth and 
fiction.®- Shorn of all its fancy, the story is simply this: the Lynnhaven River 
did not at first flow into the Bay via the present inlet, but followed a long, 
narrow estuary, parallel to the shore and flowing into the Bay at what was 
then — and is still now — called Little Creek. The inhabitants on the river, in 
order to avoid traveling five miles to the Little Creek inlet and five miles 
back outside to the fishing grounds off their plantations, decided to cut a 
trench across the half-mile wide sand bar, which separated the river from 
the Bay. This they did, and the resulting entrance of the water, with the 
ebbing and flowing of the tide, formed the inlet three-eighths of a mile wide 
as we know it today, and eventually eroded the point on which the church 
stood. First the graveyard was engulfed, then the foundation of the church 
itself was covered by the river. The digging of the trench took place before 
the well-known Augustine Herman map of 1673 was made, for the latter 
shows Lynnhaven Inlet about as it is now. The church foundation did not 
go under for some time after that, for the church remained in use until a 
new one was completed in 1692. These are the facts accepted by the late 
George C. Mason,®^ and we agree with him here. We discard Bishop Meade's 
fanciful story of the waters rushing in and engulfing the churchyard and 
flooding the countryside as far as London Bridge, six miles from the shore. 
We are skeptical of his account of Commodore Stephen Decatur, who, while 
bathing in these waters with a friend, is supposed to have deciphered the 
names on some tombstones with his toes.** Forrest, the Norfolk journalist, 
even added the deciphered name to this story, giving it as that of the well- 
known Pallet family of the neighborhood.*" We are glad, however, that the 
old graveyard did not entirely disappear before a thoughtful soul in 1819 
copied the following inscription from an armorial tombstone there: 



Here lieth ye body of Capt. John Cooking & also ye body of Mrs. Sarah Yardley 
who was wife to Captain Adam Thorowgood first, Capt. John Cooking & 
CoUonel Francis Yardley, who deceased August 1657.^^" 

This refers to the much-married Sarah Offley, as will later more fully appear. 
What a pity that those who saw this stone did not think of having it 
preserved for later generations in the new Lynnhaven Parish churchyard. 

After the death of Parson Powis in 1651, the ministers here were Reverend 
Philip Mallory in 1657 and Reverend George Alford in 1658, both of whom 
have been mentioned above. The next known minister was the Reverend 
James Porter: he was married here in 1678 to Miss Mary Ivey, was on the 
1680 list of ministers, and died here in 1683.®* From this time until the 
division of the County, there is no known record of a minister in Lynnhaven. 
It seems likely the dissenting Parson Mackie officiated here to the same 
extent he did in Elizabeth River, for after his discharge in 1692, and until 
his death, he served two non-conformist congregations, one in Elizabeth 
River, and one at Wolf Snare in Lynnhaven. So, we may assume that Rev- 
erend Josias Mackie divided his time between the two parishes from 1684 
to 1691.*' Based on what has gone before, we offer the following partially 
complete list of the clergy for the area of Lower Norfolk County: 

Upper Precinct: 
Lower Precinct: 

Neii/ Norfolk County and Parish (hypothetical) 


George White 

William Wilkinson, M.A. 

Lower Norfolk Couttty 
Lower Norfolk Parish: 1637-9 John Wilson 

(1639, divided into three separate parishes, as below) 

Elizabeth River Parish: 

Lynnhaven Parish: 

1639-40 John Wilson 

1640-45 Thomas Harrison, B.A., D.D. 

1645-48 Robert Powis 

1648 William Durand 

1649 Sampson Calvert, B.A. 
1649-51 Robert Powis (?)* 

1657 Philip Mallory, B.A., M.A. (?) 

1658 George Alford, B.A. (?) 
1666 Edward Anthony 

168O William Kern 

1684-91 Josias Mackie 

1639-40 John Wilson 

1640-51 Robert Powis 

1657 Philip Mallory, B.A. 

1658 George Alford, B.A. 


* The query mark (?) after a name means that the individual's presence is uncertain, but 
since he was in the other parish at the time, he may have served the whole county. 


1666 Edward Anthony (?) 

1678-83 James Porter 

1684-91 Josias Mackie (?) 

Southern Shore Parish: 1639-43 Robert Powis 

(c. 1643, absorbed by Lynnhaven) 

Local government in Virginia, as we have seen, developed along entirely 
different lines from the system which was very early fixed in the colonies 
to the north, such as Massachusetts Bay and New Amsterdam. There the 
township system prevailed, in which the inhabitants grouped themselves in 
compact settlements surrounded by garden plots or larger farming areas, 
owned and cultivated by the village dwellers; there were practically no large 
isolated tracts or manors. Here, exactly, the opposite was true: while there 
were some small yeoman farmers, they were in the minority — at least in the 
seventeenth century — and the colony was made up of widely separated, almost 
feudal manors which were practically self-sufficient, each a miniature town 
in itself. Beginning as plantations, hundreds and corporations, these settle- 
ments were, after 1634, grouped into larger administrative units called 
counties, and this system of local government was to remain predominant 
throughout our colonial period. However, coming from a land where municipal 
government had long been firmly established, the first Virginia planters 
showed a remarkable preoccupation with that system of local administration, 
even though it did not fit in with their essentially agricultural economy. As 
a result, we note that they called their first divisions "corporations" or 
"boroughs," and gave the name of "City" to the first four such units; they 
called their representatives to the General Assembly "Burgesses" and the 
lower house was the "House of Burgesses" until the time of the Revolution; 
and even when the Counties were established in 1634, they clung to the old 
nomenclature which resulted in such contradictory terms as James City County, 
Charles City County and Elizabeth City County — even Henrico County was 
short for Henricopolis or Henry City County. It is not surprising that there 
soon was started a movement — strongly opposed in some quarters — to estab- 
lish some kind of municipal (town or borough) government in addition 
to the county government. 

Of course, the first settlement at Jamestown was, as the name indicates, 
a town. Likewise, when Kecoughtan was taken over by the English in 1610, 
there must have been some sort of a town lay-out at this trading post: it 
soon had its fort and church, dwellings and warehouses. Further, there were 
great plans made when the City of Henricus and the City of New Bermudas 
were laid out in l6ll; there were at these places churches, rows of houses, 
streets, and fortifications, but they soon reverted to the status of simple 
plantation or hundred like the other settlements in the colony. In fact, 
none of the places mentioned- — Jamestown included — had any legal status as 


a town; there was still only the Colonial Government (with the County 
Courts later), a fact which was to remain true for some time to come. In 
what follows, the reader should constantly bear in mind that, when we 
speak of a legally established municipality, we do not mean a chartered or 
incorporated town, but simply one set up or provided for by an Act of 
Assembly. There were o>ily three chartered* corporations in Virginia before 
the Revolution: the College of William and Mary (1693), the City of 
Williamsburgh** (1722) and the Borough of Norfolk (1736); the dates 
are those of their respective charters, and only the College's was a royal 
charter, the other two being issued by the Governor in Virginia. It must also 
be borne in mind that the purpose of establishing towns was not so much 
the concentration of administrative activities (both church and lay) in one 
place for each county or parish, as it was the establishment of ports and 
market areas where trade (both export and import) could be controlled. 
For example, the large tobacco growers, all influential planters, had their 
own private wharves and it was next to impossible to enforce customs 
regulations at these private shipping points; on the other hand, by forcing 
the planters to carry on their overseas trade through legally establishing 
ports of entry and exit, the royal revenue would be protected. 

We refer again to the Act of March, 1654/5, the "Act for Regulating 
Trade and Establishing Places for Ports and Markets," and to the Lower 
Norfolk County Court order designating sites for such ports in each of its 
parishes. If these provisions had been carried out, at each of these places — 
at Shipp's on Elizabeth River and Johnson's on Lynnhaven River — there 
would have been a port of entry and exit, a trading post, a court house, 
clerk's office, sheriff's office and prison, a church,* and one or more taverns 
or ordinaries; certainly such a settlement would have soon been a town by 
any standard. However, the opposition to such a regulatory measure was 
too great and it was repealed in 1656, with the curious proviso "that if 
any county or particular person shall settle any such place whither the 
merchants shall willingly come for sale or bringing of goods, such men shall 
be lookt upon as benefactors to the publique."®* There is no indication that 
such benefactors arose to the occasion, and thus came to nought what "may 
be considered the first attempt in Virginia to bring about by legislation an 
institution which was opposed by nature and the habits of many inliabitants."*^ 

Another inducement toward the establishment of towns came with the 
passage of an act in March, 1661/2,''* by which each county was limited 
to two representatives in the House of Burgesses; this privilege was also 

* Sym's Free School (1753) and Eaton's Chanty School (1759) were both corporations estab- 
lished by Acts of Assembly, but not chartered (see Chapter VI). 

** Originally so spelled, and pronounced like Edinburgh. 

* There was actually a church in existence at both of these sites. 


extended to Jamestown, and to any other place whose owner would lay 
out a hundred acres "and people it with one hundred tithable persons." 
This plan was equally fruitless, and the following December, there was 
passed the "Act for Building a Town at James City . . ."'"■ This was an 
attempt to make more continuous in cliaracter the Capital which was inter- 
mittently practically deserted when the Assembly was not in session. The 
plans for building thirty-two brick houses there were only partially carried 
out, and when Jamestown was destroyed by Bacon in 1676, there were not 
more than eighteen houses and nearly half of them unfinished and un- 

About this time the attention of the people of Lower Norfolk County 
was very forcibly directed to the struggle for colonial supremacy which was 
going on between England and the Netherlands. The principal scene of 
these events was farther north, for the English had taken possession of 
New Amsterdam in 1664 and had renamed it New York; as a matter of 
fact, it was not until after the Dutch had retaken New York and held it for 
a few months in 1673, that the English became firmly entrenched and 
secured their hold on the former Dutch colony. Echoes and repercussions 
of these events were evinced by hostile acts against the shipping activities 
in Chesapeake Bay. 

For example, a tobacco fleet of twenty vessels, fully loaded and ready 
to sail, lay at anchor at the mouth of the James River in May, 1667. The 
only defense of seaborne commerce of Maryland and Virginia was the 
46-gun frigate Elizabeth, which was leaky and sorely in need of overhaul. 
On 4 June 1667, five Holland men-of-war came into our capes, disabled 
the Elizabeth, and captured all of twenty ships; after burning five or six, they 
made off with the others under sail.'^ Similarly another convoy was at- 
tacked in Lynnhaven Bay, in July, 1673, by nine Dutch warships against only 
two British frigates; out of an unspecified number of Virginia and Maryland 
vessels, nine were lost to the Dutch and two ran aground and were burned. 
The majority, however, escaped by retiring up the Nansemond and James 
Rivers. In the report on this latter engagement, the Governor and Council 
pointed out "our particular disadvantage and disabilities to Entertain a 
Warr at the time of this Invasion . . . for in these times of Warr, the 
Merchants give our Inhabitants soe very little for their laboure as will not 
Cloath them and their Famelies, which soe disaffects them as they will 
rather rejoyce at their losse . . .'"^^ It is significant that, after each of these 
costly disasters, in which hundreds of hogsheads of valuable tobacco were 
lost, the Virginia Assembly bestirred itself to pass a law providing more 
physical protection in the form of forts against invasion and depredations 
of hostile men-of-war. Thus an Act of September, 1667,"° authorized con- 
struction of five forts, one on each of the "main rivers": James, Nansemond, 


York, Rappahannock and Potomac. Likewise, the account of the July, 1673, 
invasion carried this remark: ". . . the time of Loading being five or six 
monthes in every River, wee thought it best to build Forts in the Most 
Convenient places for their defence;" so another act was passed in October, 
1673,"^ authorizing two more forts, one in Isle of Wight County, and one 
in Lower Norfolk County. The latter was ordered placed on Elizabeth 
River, and its site (as will more fully appear in a later chapter) was pre- 
cisely at the confluence of the Eastern and Southern Branches of that river 
on a point then called Four Farthing Point, and later Town Point because 
here Norfolk Town was established just seven years later. 

It was the General Assembly convened at Jamestown in June, 1680, which 
passed "An Act for Co-habitation and the Encouragement of Trade and 
Manufacture."'' Under this law — the first which provided for the general 
establishment of towns throughout the Colony — a town was to be established 
in each of the twenty then-existing counties. This was to be effected in the 
following manner: the several County Courts would appoint two feoffees 
in trust* for their respective counties, who would purchase fifty acres of 
land to be surveyed and laid out as a town. These feoffees were empowered 
to dispose of the town lands in lots of one-half acre each to individuals 
who would obligate themselves to build a dwelling house and a warehouse 
and settle on each lot so granted within three months. The grantees had 
to pay a hundred pounds of tobacco for a lot, and the land would be 
considered forfeited if the building and seating requirements were not 
complied with. Settlement was encouraged by exempting mechanics (car- 
penters, sawyers, brickmakers, bricklayers), tradesmen and laborers from 
arrest and seizure for a period of five years. To protect the customs revenue, 
it was required that tobacco and other exports be warehoused and shipped 
only from the towns after 1 January 1680/1, and that imported products 
be landed and sold only in the towns after 29 September 1681; in order to 
enhance the price of tobacco, no shipments of "the weed" were to be made 
until 20 March 1681/2. 

The towns to be established under this law were not given proper 
names, but were simply called after their counties (there being only one to 
each county) : the town of Lower Norfolk County, the town of Elizabeth 
City County, the town of Nansemond County, etc. The act carried a definite 
statement as to the site and location of each town, and since we are here 
concerned with only the town of Lower Norfolk County, we shall quote the 
clause referring to it: 

... in Lower Norfolk County on Nicholas Wise his land on the Eastern Branch 
of the Elizabeth River at the entrance of the Branch . . . 

* A feoffee in trust is defined in English common l.iw as a trustee holding land for public 
use. (Webster.) 


This was a narrow strip of land in the present City of Norfolk extending 
the length of the present Main Street and on both sides of it. It was chosen 
as being a well protected site, having at its westernmost extremity a fort 
as provided by the Act of 1673 and certainly built shortly thereafter. The 
town site was sur\'eyed by the County Surveyor, John Ferebee, in 1680 and 
1681,'* and possibly even that early settlement in it began, but with complete 
certainty before the end of 1683. The remarkable state of preservation of 
the Lower Norfolk County records makes it possible for us to cite details 
concerning this town which we do not know about the others in our area, 
and its story will be told in detail in a later chapter. 

The occurrences of 1676 and 1677, which are known as Bacon's Rebellion, 
did not directly touch the people of Lower Norfolk as much as they did 
other parts of the Colony. Most of the hostilities took place on the James 
and York Rivers, and Governor Berkeley and his followers took refuge in 
Northampton on the east side of Chesapeake Bay when they were forced to 
evacuate Jamestown. However, the events leading up to the Rebellion — the 
series of disasters to which Dr. Wertenbaker'" ascribes most of the unrest 
which resulted in the revolt — very definitely affected the economic life of 
this area. We have already told of the large losses sustained in 1667 and 
1673 as a result of acts of war committed in these waters by Dutch naval 
forces. Much more serious were the effects of a series of upheavals of Nature 
(which modern underv\'riters prefer to blame on the Deity) . It began with 
a typical spring hailstorm — the like of which are still experienced in these 
parts — in April, 1667. "Typical" is not a good word: "prodigious" (ac- 
cording to Wertenbaker) would better describe the hailstones big as turkey 
eggs, which wrought havoc among both vegetable and animal life, destroying 
the newly planted crops and killing livestock in large numbers. Hardly had 
the people recovered from this, when the second blow struck. In June of 
the same year, it began to rain and continued for forty days, and grain 
planted after the big hailstorm rotted in the ground. Two months went by 
and the third disaster struck. On 27 August 1667, the elements burst upon 
this coast and bay with winds of gale force accompanied by a torrential rain 
which lasted for twenty-four hours. From the time of year and from its 
duration and intensity, we have no difficulty in recognizing a Caribbean 
hurricane — the earliest one this writer has seen recorded — similar to those 
which still scourge the Atlantic seaboard every August and September. On 
28 August a scene of utter desolation met the eye on all sides: houses and 
barns were ruined, chimneys wrecked, fences flattened, tobacco in the fields 
cut to pieces. By the action of the gale and resulting high tide, the waters 
of Chesapeake Bay were driven into the rivers and creeks, so that rowboats 
and sailboats were left high and dry, and during the height of the storm, 
the rising tide overflowed banks and forced people to take refuge on rooftops 


"who lived not in sight of the water." We cannot iielp but wonder, having 
ourselves experienced several of these hurricanes, whether this may have been 
the beginning of the erosion of the Lynnhaven River's bank, especially at 
Church Point. It will be recalled that the artificial opening of Lynnhaven 
Inlet took place some years before 1673, and it is not impossible that the 
inrushing water, during the 1667 storm, may have taken a big bite of the 
churchyard and even flooded the river six miles inland. So, the traditional 
story, as previously related, may not be so improbable as first appears. 

The old saying that "bad luck comes in threes" did not hold good in 
the present ciraimstance: soon the fourth catastrophe struck. The winter of 
1672-1673 was especially disastrous, and a disease of epidemic proportions 
struck down thousands of head of livestock here. Not only that, the winter 
was particularly severe and the cold increased the mortality rate to the point 
that it is estimated half the cattle in the Colony perished before spring 
came. And so, with hail, wind, rain, disease and cold to harry the land, as 
well as foreign invaders, it is small wonder tempers flared up in 1676. Not 
that Bacon and his followers did not have a certain amount of cause and 
provocation; but men are always inclined to blame their misfortunes on 
others or on circumstances. 

One of the few direct links between Lower Norfolk County and Bacon's 
Rebellion, was in the person of Captain William Carver, mariner, shipowner, 
and member of the House of Burgesses. As early as 1659, Carver became 
interested in land on the west side of the mouth of Elizabeth River's Southern 
Branch, and under date of 16 September 1664, a grant of eight hundred 
and ninety acres for that site was issued to him. He apparently did nothing 
to develop his grant, and twelve years later became involved in the re- 
bellion. He was hanged because of his efforts in behalf of Bacon's cause, 
and his land was therefore forfeited and reverted to the Crown. This land 
is of particular interest to our story, since it became the site of the town of 
Portsmouth nearly a century later, as will appear in a later chapter.*** 

A word should be said here about means of communication and travel 
in the early days of Lower Norfolk. There were at that time, of course, only 
two elements which furnished connecting links between the various sections 
of the colony, and they were water and land. Water is mentioned first as 
being the more important, for it was first the means by which they arrived 
in the New World, and second, the avenue by which they communicated 
among themselves after their arrival. A glance at a map of the Lower Norfolk 
area will show that it is literally honeycombed with tidal rivers and their 
branches, which flow into small bays, and with smaller creeks and "gutts" 
flowing into the rivers. This system of natural waterways reaches deep into 
the land, and there were not many places that were not near or of easy 
access to water. Thus the first land grants were on watercourses and the 


people built their homes facing the streams on which they settled. Nearly 
every settler had his skiff or shallop in which he could row or sail to church, 
to court, to market, and in going about his other business and social activities. 
As the population increased, however, and as people began to travel short 
distances over land that had been freed of the Indian menace, it began to 
be clear that some way would have to be found to cross those streams which 
could not be circumvented without too much extended travel. This means 
was found in the establishment of ferries (bridges did not come until 
later), and the iirst ferry in Lower Norfolk was begun as a private enterprise 
in 1636 by Captain Adam Thoroughgood. Its location was where the 
Eastern and Southern Branches come together, joining the two points later 
to be occupied by the towns of Norfolk (I68O) and Portsmouth (1752). 
This first ferry was a simple skiff or rowboat handled by slaves. Within a 
few months, it was taken over by the County and supported by public levy like 
other county activities. It is a remarkable circumstance that a ferry continued 
to be operated by the county on this spot until 1952, when it became un- 
necessary on account of the opening of the Elizabeth River Bridge-Tunnel 

The next thing we know about ferries, comes with the Court order of 
1 5 September 1642 for two more ferries in Lower Norfolk, one on Daniel 
Tanner's Creek, and the other, on Lynnhaven River. It is not certain exactly 
where the former was; however, we can trace through the Lambert's Point 
and Larchmont sections of Norfolk an old (nineteenth century) road called 
Bowden's Ferry Road, which must have led to a ferry, judging by its name. 
It ended on Tanner's Creek (Lafayette River) at the foot of present Wythe 
Place, and if a ferry was here, it must have crossed over to the point now 
called Algonquin Park. Of the Lynnhaven River Ferry, however, we can 
be certain, for the place is still known as Ferry Farm, formerly called the 
"ferry plantation" or the "Quarter." This was on the Western Branch of 
Lynnhaven River, the property where the first Princess Anne Court House 
was later to be, and just adjoining and to the south of the later site of the 
second Lynnhaven Parish Church.* 

The Court order above referred to anticipated by a few months the 
recognition by the House of Burgesses of the fact that ferries were a public 
responsibility and should be so supported. In January 1642/3, the Assembly 
passed a law requiring ferries to be established and supported in exactly the 
fashion that has been above described. And one month later — on 16 February 
1642/3, to be exact — Savill Gaskin (whom we have met before) appeared 
before three Justices, Captain John Gookin, Commander, Edward Windham, 
and Henry Woodhouse, and agreed to keep the ferry over Lynnhaven River 

* "Old" Donation Church, a name which was applied to it much later, is the third parish 
church building, second on this same site. 


to its Eastern Shore (Robert Camm's Point) and to Trading Point. These 
localities are not easily identified now. This ieiry did not have any regular 
schedule as we think of such today, but was to run on notice of a "hollow 
or a fiFeir [fire}," that is, on an audible or visual signal from a person wishing 
to cross. *- 

These three first ferries — over Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven River and 
Tanner's Creek — lead to an assumption of some kind of overland links be- 
tween these points. In this way, there would be lines of communication 
betft'een the important Lynnhaven area and the Elizabeth River, and the sec- 
tion between its Southern and Western Branches, also between the Elizabeth 
and the relatively populous territory of Seawall's Point, Mason's Creek and 
Willoughby's Point. These first roads were nothing more than woodland 
paths, probably old Indian trails which gradually became widened by passage 
of carts drawn by oxen or steers, such as we know were widely used by the 
early planters. It does not appear that they had any official recognition as 
public "highways" until the Assembly of March 1661/2 passed a law re- 
quiring that a road be built and maintained to link Jamestown with every 
Court House and Parish Church. Shortly thereafter, there appears on record 
evidence of the maintenance of these public roads by individuals living on 
them; as, for example, when it recorded on 17 August 1668 that James 
Wichard [.f/V] was designated as one of those to repair roads in Elizabeth 
River Parish on the Eastern Branch.^* 

It is difficult to say which was the oldest public road in Lower Norfolk 
County, but judging from the location of the two important ferry crossings 
on Elizabeth River and Lynnhaven River, each near a parish church, it 
probably connected those two points. Thus it started from the ferry near 
what was later to be Norfolk Town and eventually followed the course of 
the present East Princess Anne Road to the head of Broad Creek, where 
the creek divided into two branches (now dammed to make Lake Wright 
and Lake Taylor) which the road crossed by two bridges called Moore's 
Bridges. This was probably where the Cason Moore family, below mentioned, 
resided; it must also be borne in mind that the County Court House was 
somewhere on Broad Creek. The main Norfolk City Waterworks plant at 
that point is still called Moore's Bridges Pumping Station. The road's main 
course from that point toward the Lynnhaven Ferry and Church has been 
lost, but it branched south toward Moseley's at Rolleston, Hancock's at 
New Town, and Kempe's and Walke's, at the head of the Eastern Branch, 
a route which is easily followed today. Probably the first road branching 
off this early road to Lynnhaven was the one which departed in a northerly 
direction at what is now Fox Hall and, carefully avoiding all the branches 
of Tanner's Creek and Mason's Creek, finally arrived by a circuitous route 
at Seawell's Point. This is the road still known to us "die-hards" as Seawell's 


Point Road, though much of its northern end has disappeared and an 
important part of its east-west section is now unfortunately disguised under 
the name of Little Creek Road. It should be remembered that, following the 
principle of connecting Court Houses and Parish Churches by these early 
roads, Seawell's Point Road passed not far from the Tanner's Creek Chapel 
of 166L An early important branch of the latter road was the one which 
led to the important manor and plantation of the Willoughby family. This 
can now be followed in most of its course under its later name of Old Ocean 
View Road and Maple Avenue, but from First View Street it is lost and 
probably followed an almost straight line to the dunes north of the Ocean 
View Elementary School, probable site of the Willoughby Manor.*'^ 

We should now like to tell something more about the people who settled 
here in these early years, their families, their land and their homes. Many 
details on some of the more prominent names have already been given, and 
here will be added further facts, as well as accounts of some of the not-so- 
well-known early settlers. Here, as elsewhere in this chapter, we shall confine 
our remarks in the main to the period prior to April, 1691, when Lower 
Norfolk County ceased to exist upon its division into two new counties. 

One of our most prominent county names in the early years was that 
of Adam Thorowgood.* His place of origin has previously been told, as 
well as his early activities, land grants, marriage and membership in the 
House of Burgesses and Governor's Council. A brief account of the first two 
generations of his descendants may tlirow some light on the date of the 
interesting seventeenth century house which bears his name. He died in the 
year 1640, at the age of thirty-five, probably in March or April, his will 
(dated 17 February 1639/40) having been admitted to probate on 27 April 
1640. A curious fact about this probate is that it was made in the Quarter 
Court at James City instead of in the inferior Lower Norfolk County Court 
as was customary. This raises a question as to whether he may not have died 
in Jamestown while attending the Council sessions; this being true and in 
view of his importance as a Council member, probate in the Quarter Court 
(which was the Council) was perfectly natural. Mistress Sarah Thorowgood 
was named executrix in her deceased husband's will and inherited (among 
other things) the "Manor House Plantation" for life. Adam (II) inherited 
the rest of his father's houses and lands in Virginia; widow, son and three 
daughters (Sarah, Ann, Elizabeth) shared in the personal estate, and the 
Manor House Plantation was to go to son Adam on the death of the widow. 
Captain Thorowgood also bequeathed a thousand pounds of tobacco to the 
Lynnliaven Parish Church to buy "some necessary and decent ornament," 
and by his will directed his burial in the churchyard at Church Point beside 

* The customary spelling in those days, though modernly it is more usually written "Thor- 


certain unnamed children of his already interred there. The testator desig- 
nated Captain Thomas Willoughby and Mr. Henry Seawell as "overseers" 
(supervisors) of the execution of his will in Virginia, and his uncle, Sir John 
Thorowgood of Kensington and his wife's uncle, Mr. Alexander Harris of 
Tower Hill (both of London, of course) to look after his affairs in England. 
It should be borne in mind that the widow had the Manor Plantation 
"for life" and not "during her widowhood," a more customary provision in 
such cases, which will be an important consideration in what follows. It is 
also to be noted all Thorowgood's children were minor at his death, he having 
been married in 1624.*^ 

If Adam (II) was the eldest, he must have reached majority about 1646 
or a little later, and was married — probably about that time — to Frances, 
the daughter of ArgoU Yardley* and granddaughter of the former Governor. 
His mother had already remarried prior to 15 April 1641, when an order 
of the Quarter Court allowing her certain articles of bedroom furniture 
from her first husband's estate, referred to her thus: ". . . the said Mrs. 
Gookin being the widow and relict of Captain Adam Thorowgood de- 
ceased." Adam Thorowgood (II) must have lived after his marriage in one 
of the other houses he inherited, since his mother and her new husband (and 
probably Adam's three sisters, of whom we hear little more) were living 
in the Manor House. The widow's new husband will be recognized as John 
Gookin, son of Daniel Gookin of the plantation at Marie's Mount, above 
Newport News; this fact, as well as that of his previous residence in Nan- 
semond, have already been noted. Probably as a result of having married 
the influential widow, Gookin also fell heir to her late husband's position 
in the community, and soon** became Commander and Presiding Justice of 
Lower Norfolk County. Gookin died in 1643, and on 22 November of that 
year, his widow was appointed administratrix of his estate. As Mrs. Kellam 
says, "the widow was not long inconsolable, if ever;" but this time she did 
wait four years. In 1647 she was married for the third time, to Colonel 
Francis Yeardley, another son of the former Governor. Colonel Yeardley, 
like his brother, ArgoU, owned broad acres on the Eastern Shore, but — like 
the late Captain Gookin — came to reside in the Thorowgood Manor House 
with his new wife. Adam Thorowgood (II) now found himself in the midst 
of a complicated family relationship; his wife's uncle was married to his 
mother and was, therefore, his (Adam's) own stepfather (number two!). 
Colonel Yeardley died in 1655, and two years later (August, 1657) the 
thrice-widowed Sarah, followed him to the grave. 

* As a point of interest regarding this name, it must be remembered that Sir George Yeardley 
was closely associated with Captain (later Sir) Samuel Argall, both having served as Governor of 
the Colony for contiguous terms. This is mentioned since the name also found its way into the 
Thorowgood family, though here spelled "ArgoU." Likewise, Yeardley was here spelled "Yardley." 

** Certainly by 16 February 1642/3. (See Note 82, above.) 


Meantime, Adam Thorowgood (11), who soon came to be known as 
"Colonel," had raised quite a family of his own, five sons and- a daughter: 
Argoll, John (first of a line of three), Adam (III), Francis, Robert and 
Rose.* Upon his mother's death in 1657, he finally came into his complete 
inheritance and no doubt moved his large family into the Manor House 
which had been his father's principal residence. The other house, in which 
he had lived since his marriage, may very well have been the Thorowgood 
House still standing today. When Colonel Thorowgood made his will in 
1679, he made provision for his wife (in the manner of his father) by 
leaving her the Manor House and six hundred acres for life, which on her 
death were to go to his eldest son, Argoll. The remainder of his land and 
houses were to be divided into five equal parts, one for each of the sons 
according to their choice in order of seniority. Thus it is clear that the 
Manor House (which is no longer standing) descended to the eldest son, 
Argoll, and by tracing back the title to the still-standing Thorowgood House, 
it has been determined to have been the residence of John Thorowgood 
and his descendants. Colonel Adam Thorowgood (II) died in 1685/6, as is 
indicated by the probate of his will.*^ 

The sequence of events, as related above, seems to indicate that the 
Manor House, built by Adam Thorowgood (I) — therefore by 1639 — and 
inherited by his only son Adam (II) and by the latter's eldest son, Argoll, was 
not the still-existing Thorowgood House. The latter house was probably 
built by Adam (II) at the time of his marriage (c.l646) or later, since he 
was not able to take possession of the manor until 1657. Similarly Argoll 
Thorowgood did not come into possession until his mother died, and then 
the present house — which must therefore be assumed to be the second in 
degree of desirability — was chosen by his brother, John. 

Just when the existing Thorowgood House was built is difficult to say. 
Former writers on the subject have assigned the date 1636-40 on the assump- 
tion that it was the Manor House, which is clearly not true. The construction 
of the east or (former) front wall and both gables in English bond,* while 
the west wall is in Flemish bond,** points to a date possibly around 1660 or 
earlier, with a remodeling or reconstruction of the west wall at a later date. 

* Undoubtedly some of these children were born after 1657. 

* Laying bricks in alternate courses of all stretchers (sides exposed) and all headers (ends 
exposed). Generally supposed to have been popular in Virginia during the first two-thirds of the 
seventeenth century. 

** Laying bricks with alternate stretchers and headers in each course, and vertically with 
stretcher over header, which — with glazed blue headers — forms a pattern. Generally supposed to 
have been so-called because used by the numerous Flemish masons who were imported into London 
to rebuild after the Fire of 1666. It is, of course, ridiculous to suppose that date marks the dividing 
line between the two styles of bonding, but it is true that construction in English bond is presump- 
tive evidence — all other things being equal — of an earlier date than construction in Flemish bond 
with glazed blue headers. 



A brick in the west wall bears the inscription "Ad.T.," which would indicate 
remodeling by Adam Thorowgood (H): only thus can we explain the use 
of the above initials instead of simply "A.T.," in order to distinguish be- 
tween Adam (II) and Argoll Thorowgood. Very recently the house has been 
acquired by "The Adam Thoroughgood House Foundation," headed by 
Mr. Henry Clay Hofheimer II, and has been restored under the direction of 

(Courtesy Adam Thoroughgood House Foundalioti). 

Mr. Finlay F. Ferguson, Jr., an architect who combines a feeling for colonial 
architecture with a broad experience in that direction, having been formerly 
associated with Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated. One of the most in- 
teresting features of the restoration is the medieval type of leaded diamond- 
paned casement windows, which had been at one time replaced by Georgian 
frames. Another medieval feature of the house was the lack of a central 
hall, with entrance directly into the larger of two downstairs rooms; this 
was later altered by addition of a partition corresponding to the original 
inner wall, resulting in two downstairs rooms of equal size, with a central 
hall between.*^ 

It is, of course, anachronistic to insert a Revolutionary War map at this 
point, but we believe the one given in part (p. 274) , probably done in early 
1781** (less than one hundred years after Adam (II) died), will throw 


considerable light on some of the topographical questions we have mentioned. 
This shows the area between Lynnhaven Inlet and Little Creek and is 
drawn, according to older usage, with the North direction at the bottom. 
Of course, the Thorowgood names on this map have no significance in 
terms of the individuals in our account above, but it is certain that "J.* 
Torogood" on Lynnhaven River, designates the presently existing house. 
There is another unnamed house near what appears to be a pond, and as 
a matter of fact, a pond is mentioned in several descriptions of the Manor 
House Plantation. We would not hazard a guess about the legend "Maj. 
Torogood" near the "Pleasure House," but we know this to be exactly at 
the present Chesapeake Beach; the small lagoon there is still called Pleasure 
House Lake. Then there is, farther to the west, "Col. J. Thorogood" near 
a house which seems to have been L-shaped, and may have been intended 
to indicate a more important house or "manor," but this is pure surmise. 

There are many stories told and recorded about the redoubtable Mistress 
Sarah; however, we must be brief and mention only two. At the Lower 
Norfolk Court held at William Shipp's on 3 August 1640, it appeared in 
testimony that a certain lady, wife of a vestryman, made insinuations as to 
sharp business practices on the part of the late Captain Thorowgood, where- 
upon the widow exclaimed, "Why, Goody* Layton, could you never get 
yours?" [referring to a cancelled note which had been paid.} The lady 
addressed flounced around and cried, "Pish!" To which Mistress Sarah re- 
plied, "You must not think to put it off with a 'pish!' for if you have 
wronged him you must answer for it, for though he is dead I am here in 
his behalf to right him." The "goody" was required by court order to ask 
Mistress Sarah's forgiveness on her knees, both in Court and the following 
Sunday in the Parish Church at Lynnhaven. Four years later, two excessively 
exuberant young men were tried in Quarter Court at James City on 8 October 
1644 for making insulting remarks concerning the late Captain's daughter, 
Sarah. One of them was sentenced to receive fifty lashes on his bare back, and 
to ask forgiveness of the widow Gookin (as she then was) in the Lynnhaven 
Parish Church, as well as to pay her court costs.*" 

Of especial interest to the history of both Lower Norfolk and the 
Province of Carolina is the letter Colonel Yeardley wrote to John Farrar, 
Esq., of Little Gidding Manor, Huntingdonshire, under the date-line "Vir- 
ginia, Linnehaven, 8th May 1654." In it he told of a fur-trader who stopped 
at the Manor House to ask for provisions and a small boat in order to go 
to Roanoke Island and catch up with a sloop which had left him. Entering 

* In a recent newspaper article (see Note 85, below), these J's were misread as F's, but com- 
parison with other names on the map proves their correctness. 

* "Goody" = goodwife, a form of address which would be used to a person considered of 
lower social rank than one addressed as "Mistress," (Webster.) 


at "Caratoke"* about thirty miles south of Cape Henry, he met the chief 
of the Roanoke Indians, who showed him the ruins of "Sir Walter Rawleigh 
his fort." He persuaded the chief to return with him to Yeardley's home. 
The chief was much impressed at seeing the children there reading and 
writing, and asked Colonel Yeardley to take his only son and educate him 
so that he could "speake out of the Booke, and to make a writing," as well 
as have religious instruction. These things the Colonel agreed to do, and 
after some delay it was done: the chief returned with his wife and child, 
and the latter was baptized by the minister* in the parish church on Tues- 
day, 3 May 1634, and was left with Yeardley to receive his education. A 
little before this, as a gesture of good-will, Colonel Yeardley had sent 
workmen to Roanoke at the chief's request to build for him an English-style 
house which the Colonel agreed to furnish with English furniture and 

Of no less prominence than Thorowgood in Lynnhaven was Thomas 
Willoughby in Elizabeth River Parish. It may be a slight exaggeration to say 
that their lands were separated only by Little Creek, then boundary between 
the two parishes, but that was almost literally true. We have already told 
of Willoughby's early arrival (1610), of his being Justice, Burgess and 
important landowner in Elizabeth City; we have also seen how, before 1626, 
he owned land at what was later to be called Willoughby's Point,** and 
within the next decade acquired additional acreage at the Point and on 
Elizabeth River where Norfolk Town was later to be. He added further to 
his estate by patents of 1643 for fifteen hundred acres and 1654 for fourteen 
hundred acres, the latter extending from the Willoughby's Point Manor in- 
land to the head of Mason's Creek, which almost reached Old Seawell's 
Point (now Little Creek) Road at one point, and Old Ocean View Road 
where Fisherman's Road branched from it, at another. This 1654 patent is 
interesting also, because of the names of twenty-eight headrights listed in 
it, some of whom were: Alice, Thomas and Elizabeth Willoughby, James 
Wichard and Matthew Hancock. Of the three Willoughby's here named, 
we assume Alice and Elizabeth were respectively wife and daughter of the 
Captain; Thomas was certainly his son. The death of the first Thomas 
Willoughby was noted in Lower Norfolk records thus: 

Att a Court houlden the l6th Day of August 1658, upon peticion of Mr. The. 
Willoughby a Commission of Admcon [administration] is granted him upon 
his father's estate, Capt. Tho. Willoughby who deceased in England . . . 

* Currituck: the inlet is no longer in existence but was on the coast just south of the present 
Virginia-North Carolina boundary. 

* We may well wonder who performed this rite, if Powis died in 1651 and Mallory did not 
arrive on the scene until 1657. There must have been an intervening incumbent whose name is not 

** The names "Willoughby Spit" and "Willoughby Beach" are still used in this locality, 
though referring to a newer formation appended by Nature to the former Point. 


The son was born in Virginia on Christmas Day, 1632, and was educated 
at the Merchant Tailors School* in London, where he was recorded as 
"only son of Thos. Willoughby of Virginia, gentleman." About 1660 he 
married Sarah, daughter of Richard Thompson of Northumberland County, 
Virginia, formerly of Mar)'land. He died in 1672, and though his will has 
been lost, there is a record of inventor)' and appraisal of his estate dated 
15 May 1672, in which he was called "Lieut. Col. Thomas Willoughby de- 
ceased." The widow, Sarah Willoughby died, according to her will probate, 
in February, 1673/4; her executors were her son and daughter, Thomas and 
Elizabeth, and two of the four "overseers" for the will were Lemuel Mason 
and George Newton. The son, Thomas (HI), is said to have married 
Margaret, daughter of the first John Herbert; here we must leave this 
account of the Willoughby's and continue it, after 1691, in a later chapter.*' 
A third prominent early resident of these parts was Francis Mason, some 
• details concerning whom have already been given. According to his own 
statement in two depositions, he was born in 1595; he arrived in Virginia 
in 1613 with wife and daughter, Mary and Anne, a son Francis, being born 
in Virginia. Mary Mason died before 1624, and nothing furtlier is known 
about her two children. Mason's muster of 1624 shows his second wife's 
name, Alice Mason; their two children Lemuel and Elizabeth were probably 
born shortly thereafter. As we have seen, Francis Mason was churchwarden, 
Justice, Sheriff and Lieutenant of Militia; his home was on the west of the 
creek, which bears his name, and, though partially filled in. Mason's Creek 
is still a well-known spot today. He died intestate in 1648 at the age of 
fift}'-three, and Court records of November in that year, show that Alice 
Mason, his widow, and Lemuel, his son, were appointed administrators of 
his estate. As previously noted, Colonel Lemuel Mason was successively 
Justice, Burgess, Sheriff and probably Churchwarden or Vestryman of Eliza- 
beth River Parish. His will belongs chronologically to Norfolk County after 
1691 (being dated 17 June 1695 and proved seven years later), but must 
be quoted here to show some interesting connections: his wife, Anne, was 
daughter to Henr)' Seaweil of Seawell's Point, he had three sons (Thomas, 
Lemuel and George), and two of his four daughters had been married- 
Frances to George Newton and Alice to William Porten, County Clerk — 
though, as will later appear, both these sons-in-law had died before the 
will was written;* the will gives a further connection in the mention of 
Mason's sister and deceased brother-in-law, Elizabeth and James Thelaball.*- 

* The Guild or Company of Merchant Tailors was one of the subscribers to shares in the 
Virginia Company. 

* Each daughter later got another prominent husb.ind: Frances married Charles Saver and Alice 
married Samuel Boush (see Chapter XII). 


James Thelaball** was a Huguenot refugee from France, having arrived 
m Lower Norfolk in 1648; he was naturaUzed in 1683. The south branch 
of Mason's Creek, at the head of which was Tanner's Creek Chapel as 
previously noted, was still traditionally called Thelaball's Creek and so 
shown on maps of a generation or so ago; it has now disappeared as a result 
of filling in for the principal landing held in the United States Naval Air 
Station. Somewhere on that creek, we feel sure, was the land and residence 
of James Thelaball; there he lived with his family and died in 1693, two 
years after the division of the County. His family consisted of three sons, 
two of whom (Francis and James) lived to raise sizeable families, and three 
daughters: Mary, who married William Chichester, and Margaret and Eliza- 
beth, who married the brothers Langley as will appear below. ^^ 

William Langley, the elder, progenitor of a numerous clan living in 
both parishes, was in Elizabeth River Parish with his wife, Joyce, as early as 
1656. The exact site of his residence is not known, but several later gen- 
erations of his descendants lived on Mason's Creek at the north end of 
what is now Forest Lawn Cemetery; there is still to be seen in that locality 
a family burial ground containing some late eighteenth and early nineteenth 
century gravestones. It seems likely that the family was seated there much 
earlier. Two sons of William and Joyce Langley became quite prominent in 
the life of the county: they were William [II} and Thomas, who respectively 
married Margaret and Elizabeth, daughters of their near neighbor, James 
ITielaball. Both had large families and their descendants were legion; in 
fact, in the next three or four generations, we can count no less than sixty-six 
descendants of the name of Langley alone, not to mention those of other 
names. Elizabeth, only daughter of William and Joyce Langley, was married 
to James Wishard about 1661, as will appear below. William Langley, the 
elder, died in Lower Norfolk County in 1676."^ 

James Wishard, above referred to, was unquestionably identical with 
James Wichard* listed in Willoughby's patent of 1654. Nothing certain 
IS known of his origin, but he was undoubtedly of the family of Wischard 
(Wishart) of Pittarrow, Kincardineshire (Scotland), which was a branch 
of the ancient family of Wychard of Osbaston, Leicestershire (England). 
It seems likely that he became an indentured servant, binding himself so 
to serve Captain Thomas Willoughby, his sponsor, in return for his passage 
to the Colony. After the 1654 patent, his name did not appear again until 
1662, first as witness to a deed, then taking his turn keeping up the roads 
in the Eastern Branch precinct of Elizabeth River Parish (1668). It seems 

**Also written Thelabell, Thenabell, and with many other variants; possibly a corruption of 
the French "Thebault." 

♦Twice written "Wichard" (including the 1654 patent), it soon came to be spelled "Wish- 
ard"; later members gave preference to "Wishart," but one branch reverted to "Wichard" and 
eventually "Whichard." 


probable he married Elizabeth Langley after 1661, and they probably first 
lived at Seawell's Point; Wishard's first purchase of land was on 25 August 
1665, a tract of one hundred and fifty acres at Seawell's Point, sold to him 
by Henry Seawell, the younger. He was named an appraiser of the estate 
of Thomas Willoughby (d. 1672), and between 1672 and 1678 acquired 
by purchase and patent, a total of six hundred acres in the Little Creek 
vicinity. This is where he lived until his death in February, 1679/80, as is 
shown by his will proved on 1 March of that year. Besides the widow, his 
heirs were then listed as four sons and two daughters: James, Joyce, John, 
William, Thomas and Frances. James Wishard, Jr., married Mary, daughter 
to Jacob Johnson, and had two sons; John Wishard had an only son; but 
only Thomas Wishard (married to Mary, daughter to James Kempe) left 
descendants beyond the generation of his own children."' A word should be 
said about the inheritance of son William. One of the holdings of James 
Wishard, the elder, on Little Creek, was a two hundred-acre tract purchased 
in 1673 from William Richerson, shipwright, of London. William Wishard, 
a bachelor, inherited this land as his share of the estate, and it then had a 
house on it which is still standing. It is difficult to say when the house was 
built, but we are inclined toward the decade 1660-70, though an architectural 
authority recently conjectured 1680 as more nearly correct."'^ This house, 
though considerably altered, still shows its age in its English bond con- 
struction throughout, its two double set-off chimneys (both outside, as 
compared with Thorowgood's, of which one is inside) , and its medieval great- 
hall-and-parlor arrangement with entrance into the great hall. As can be 
seen from the accompanying photograph, the roof was originally sharp- 
angled, and an older picture showed three dormer windows piercing it across 
the front. On the 1781 map mentioned earlier,®' this house is probably the 
one labeled "Roush's," a mistake for "Boush's," since members of that 
family are known to have owned it later. It is easily identifiable on the 
map by its proximity to the Parish Church (now called Old Donation) . 
Wishard's principal residence at Little Creek is identified by the legend 
"Col. Wishart," the name of his great grandson, who was County Lieu- 
tenant; this was where U.S. Route 60 crosses U.S. Navy property just east 
of the viaduct over the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad ferry terminal. 
James Wishard (II) married the daughter of Jacob Johnson (probably 
originally Jansen), a Hollander, who settled here first in 1673 and was 
naturalized in 1679- His wife was Mary, daughter to George Ashall (d. 
1673)."* Thomas Wishard, youngest son of the elder James, was married 
to Mary, daughter to James Kempe and granddaughter to George Kempe; 
the latter was early in the County, died before 1677, but it is impossible to 
say just what was his connection with Richard Kempe of Jamestown, Sec- 
retary of State in 1639, or with William Kempe, Justice and Burgess for 



Elizabeth City in 1629 and 1630. James Kempe, above-mentioned, married 
the widow of Lancaster Lovett, churchwarden in Lynnhaven in 1650 and 
first of four generations bearing the same name; Lovett died in 1673. The 
Kempes were seated at the head of the Eastern Branch of Ehzabeth River, 
a place which soon came to be called Kempe's Landing, and is now the 
quaint and interesting village of Kempsville.'''' We give herewith another 

(Rogers Dey Whichard) 



section of the 1781 map, sufficient to show "Kemps" at the head of tlie 
Eastern Branch (north at bottom of map). Here, also, will be seen "Neuton" 
for New Town, and "Moores Bridge," more properly Moore's Bridges. 
The house marked "Hogards" is Poplar Hall, long the seat of the Hoggard 

Very little more can be told of the Seawells than has already been men- 
tioned. Mr. and Mrs. Seawell were both dead by 1645. Their daughter, 
Anne, married Colonel Lemuel Mason, and their son, Henry Seawell (II) 
still owned land at Seawell's Point in 1665, which he sold to James Wishard, 
as above noted. ^*'" Henry Seawell the younger had gone to school in England 
at Yarmouth, county Norfolk. 

The story of Samuel Boush, son of Maximilian, of George Newton, 
Justice in 1683, and of William Porten, County Clerk from 1669, belongs 
more to the history of Norfolk Town, and will be told in that chapter.^"^ 



A name which has left its mark, even to the present day, is that ot 
Daniel Tanner. Early grants to him have not been preserved; a grant ot 
21 November 1637 to William Croutch was described thus: "In the great 
creek on the lefthand going into the mouth of Elizabeth River about two 
miles on the north side from Daniel Tanner . . . " Another grant of 1639 
also mentions land adjoining Daniel Tanner, and this "great creek" very 

(Courtesy Willitttn L. Clements Libr.iry) 

FROM CLINTON MS. 267 (f. 1781) 

early came to be called Tanner's Creek. Its official name was changed, 
unfortunately, in the nineteenth century to 'Lafayette River," but it will 
always be Tanner's Creek to those who hate to see old names perish. There 
is on record an interesting document dated at Canterbury 10 August 1654, 
and admitted to record in Lower Norfolk 1 January 1654/5, in which 
William Stanley, Mayor of the City of Canterbury, certified that the parish 
register there showed the marriage of Charity and Daniel Tanner on 26 No- 
vember I6l4, and the birth of their son, John Tanner, on 14 October, 1627. 
Daniel Tanner died in December, 1653, and the absence in his will of any 
heirs of his name probably indicates they died before he did.*"- 

About five miles up the Southern Branch of Elizabeth River, on the west, there 
is a stream once called Julian's Creek, a name now corrupted to St. Julian's or St. 
Julien's; it was named for William Julian, yeoman and ancient planter, landowner 
in this vicinity, as previously noted. Here was the residence of Thomas Nash, first 


of another numerous clan, long seated and widely spread over this area. It appears 
from an agreement dated 4 November 1664 that Thomas Nash and Richard 
Taylor owned five hundred acres in partnership, and a patent was issued 
to them just one year later (6 Nov. 1665) for four hundred and forty-six 
acres "neere the head of Julian's Creek in the southward branch of Elizabeth 
River beginning at a poynt on the south side of the creek ..." It is not 
clear whether these records refer to the same tract of land. Nash came 
traditionally from the vicinity of Tenby (Pembrokeshire), Wales, of an an- 
cient family of English origin. His death was noted in two documents 
recorded in Lower Norfolk in February 1672/3, both of which give the 
name of his widow, Elinor Nash: the first of these was a deed of appren- 
ticeship for his son dated 10 February, 1672/3, the second was the inventory 
of his estate dated 17 February 1672/3. The deed above-mentioned ap- 
prenticed Thomas Nash (II) to one John Nichols to learn "the art of a 
shoemaker or cordwinder," but the most interesting thing about it was that 
it stated young Thomas was going to be six years old the following 18th of 
March; thus, his exact birth date is known — 18 March 1666/7 — a most un- 
usual circumstance. Since the apprenticeship was to last until Thomas became 
twenty-one, he probably did not marry until 1688 or later; his wife, Ann, was 
daughter to William Etheridge, and they had three sons and four daughters: 
Thomas (III), William, Solomon, Elizabeth, Elinor, Dorcas and Mary. The 
story of this family belongs to the following chapter on Norfolk County. 
The Etheridge family was also living on the Southern Branch. Its founder 
was Thomas Etheridge (d. December, 1671), whose wife was Christian 
(d. November, 1671), and their children were: William (above), Edward, 
Marmaduke, Ann and Susannah. William had a son Thomas {II] whose 
daughter, Dinah, married Thomas Nash [HI], her first cousin.^"' 

During the time of the Puritan rebellion in England, many Loyalists — ■ 
"Cavaliers" as they were called — took refuge in Holland, just as some years 
previous the unwelcome Puritans had done before coming to Massachusetts 
Bay. Quite a few of these Loyalists came eventually to Virginia, the "Old 
Dominion" being more sympathetic toward them than some of the other 
American colonies. One of the most prominent of these was William Moseley 
who, with his wife, Susannah, and sons William and Arthur, was in Lower 
Norfolk probably as early as 1649. In 1650, he received a certificate for 
five hundred and fifty acres due for transportation of eleven persons to 
Virginia, and in 1652 a patent was granted him for this land in Lynnhaven 
Parish. A court record of the latter year noted that he was "late of Rotterdam 
in Holland ... a merchant and now resident in the Eastern Branch of 
Elizabeth River . . ." This was his Manor of Rolleston* on the west side of 

* Said to be named for a family manor in Staffordshire, but there is also a Rolleston Hall in 
Leicestershire, which, strangely enough, had a later Moseley connection. (See Firth, p. 233.) 

V,i. 18 




z -■ 

< ^ 

I 4 

W -J 

z " 



the first creek, east of Broad Creek, and on the north side of Eastern Branch. 
To the east of this creek was Greenwich, also a Moseley pkintation of later 
date, and both the Rolleston and Greenwich names are preserved in modern 
developments at these sites. It has been suggested that WiUiam Moseley's 
manor house at Rolleston was built in the Dutch style (he having just come 
from the Netherlands), and may have influenced later builders of the 
so-called gambrel-roofed houses, many of which still survive from two cen- 
turies ago in this vicinity. Moseley at once assumed a place of prominence 
in the County and was Justice of its Court for the short time he was here; 
he died in 1655 (his will was proved in August). A deed he made to 
C^olonel Francis Yeardley in 1652, together with an earlier (1650) letter of his 
wife's addressed to the Colonel, both recorded in November, 1652, tell of 
the circumstances of the Moseleys upon their arrival, that their lack of 
ready cash made it necessary literally for them to barter the family jewels 
for livestock. By this deed there were given to Colonel Yeardley, for his 
wife, one hat band of gold (probably embroidered or hinged), one gold 
and enamel buckle set with diamonds, one enameled "jewel " (brooch or 
pin?) set with diamonds, and one enameled gold ring set with one diamond, 
one ruby, one "sapphyr" and one emerald; in return for these pieces Colonel 
Yeardley gave (of his wife's own livestock, we feel sure!) nine head of 
neat cattle (two draught oxen, two steers, and five cows). It is of interest 
to note in passing that Mistress Yeardley had other jewelry, and after her 
death her "best" diamond necklace was sold in England to pay for six 
diamond rings (probably mourning rings) and two black tombstones, as 
was indicated in a receipt for and agreement to sell the necklace, executed 
by Nicholas Trott, merchant, on 1 February 1657/8. One of these tombstones 
may well have been the one whose inscription was copied as above men- 
tioned; they were car\'ed from a kind of black stone, very popular in those 
days since its color was appropriate to mourning.^** 

To get back to the Moseleys, Captain William Moseley (II) — a Justice 
in 1662 as previously noted — married Mary, the daughter of John Gookin, 
and the former widow Thorowgood; his brother, Arthur Moseley, married 
the daughter of Simon Hancock, and became in 1689, one of the earliest 
lot owners in Norfolk Town, as will be related in Chapter XII. William 
Moseley (II) had a son, Edward, later Colonel and Knight of the Golden 
Horseshoe; but this, too, is a stoiy for later. 

Speaking of Hancocks, there was a Matthew Hancock listed as a head- 
right in Willoughby's patent of 1654, but it is not known whether the 
later ones had any connection with him. The first certain member of this 
family was Simon Hancock,* who was here with his wife, Sarah, and son, 

* Also written Handcocke. 


William, by 1650. He was dead by 1654, when his widow received a grant 
for the land where they lived adjoining the Moseleys. William Hancock, the 
son, made a will in 1687 (proved 17 May) which mentions his mother, 
Sarah Piggott (she had remarried), sons, Simon, William, Samuel, John, 
Edward and George, and daughters, Mary and Frances.** From descrip- 
tions of bequests of land in this will, it is clear his land was near the 
Eastern Branch Chapel of 1666, previously mentioned. The will of Sarah 
Piggott was proved two years later (15 May 1689) and mentioned grand- 
children named both Hancock and Moseley, the latter issue of her daughter's 
marriage to Arthur Moseley.*""' 

In the early days of the seventeenth century, there was living in England 
one Sir Henry Woodhouse of Waxham, whose wife was Anne, daughter 
to Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. Their son. Cap- 
tain Henry Woodhouse, claimed to have been promised the Governorship 
of Virginia, and when he failed in his efforts to obtain it, he went to Bermuda, 
where he is said to have held that same high office. The third Henry Wood- 
house in this line was apparently the first one who was in Virginia by 1637 
and was a vestryman in Lynnhaven in 1640. His will was proved in No- 
vember, 1655, and distributed to his heirs both Virginia and Bermuda 
possessions; he had a large family, and we shall mention here only those 
pertinent to our story: Henry (the second in Virginia), Horatio, Elizabeth 
(wife of Joel Cornick), Sarah (wife of Maximilian Boush I), and Mary 
(wife of Eward Attwood). Henry Woodhouse (II) died in 1687 leaving 
three heirs: Henry (HI), and two daughters, Sarah and Mary, who married 
respectively Cason Moore (I) and William Moore. Sarah and Maximilian 
Boush were the parents of Samuel Boush (whose story belongs to Norfolk 
Town) and of Maximilian Boush (II). The Woodhouses lived in the 
general area between London Bridge and Pungo, called the Upper Eastern 
Shore Precinct of Lynnhaven Parish.*"® 

Mention was made above of a member of the Cornick family, and this 
is another name which has continued prominent through the years in this 
section. Its progenitor was Simon Cornick* who was here by 1653, when 
he received a certificate for six hundred and fifty acres for transportation 
of thirteen persons hither, four of whom were his wife, Jane, and children, 
Martha, William and Thomas; another headright in this patent was Plummer 
Bray, whom we shall meet later. In 1657, William Cornick got a patent for 
the acreage due his father (had he died meanwhile?) just to the south of 
the present village of Oceana, which tract was then called — and is still 
so known today — Salisbury Plain.* This name, reminiscent of the site of 

** Married respectively, James Kempe (II) and John Wishard, son of Thomas, as later appears. 

* Simond Cornix. 

* Incorrectly called Salisbury Plains hereabouts. 


Stonehenge, may suggest the place of origin of the Cornicks as the city of 
SaUsbury in Wiltshire. William Cornick's wife, Elizabeth, was daughter to 
John Martin, and we shall mention here only three of their children: Joel 
Cornick, who inherited Salisbury Plain and as above noted married Elizabeth, 

( Rogers Dey ]rhichjrd) 


"DUDLIES," keeling house, C. 1690, RESIDENCE OF REAR ADMIRAL 


daughter to Henry Woodhouse; Elizabeth Cornick, who died in 1684, the 
wife of Thomas Cannon; and Barbara Cornick, who was married to Captain 
Francis Morse.^"^ 

It was pointed out in an earlier chapter that Thomas Keeling was one 
of the one hundred and five headrights in Thorowgood's 1635 patent, and 
that in that same year Keeling was seated on the east side of Lynnhaven 
River; as Ensign Thomas Keeling, he was listed as a vestryman in 1640. 
He left six children, but only the eldest of these is pertinent to this account: 
his name was Adam Keeling — so called because he was godson to Captain 


Thorowgood — and his wife, Anne, was sister of William Cornick's wife, 
Elizabeth, both daughters to John Martin. The Keeling lands, like Wood- 
houses' and Cornicks', were to the south of London Bridge and Oceana, 
with one exception: that was the tract which Adam Keeling bequeathed at 
his death in 1683 to his son, Thomas, whose wife was a daughter of the 
second Lancaster Lovett. He also had a son named Adam (II). This tract 
was, for some now obscure reason, called "Dudlies"; it was on the east side 
of Lynnhaven River near its mouth, and may possibly have been part of the 
first Thomas Keeling's land of 1635. The beautiful little house on "Dudlies" 
was probably built by the second Thomas around 1690, or earlier. The 
herringbone pattern of its Flemish bond gables can be clearly seen in the 
accompanying photograph, as well as an old hand-made wrought iron light- 
ning rod. The location of this house is shown on the 1781 map at the legend 
■A. Keeling."'"* 

Thomas Walke, first of a prominent county family, arrived here from the 
Barbadoes in 1662; it is remarkable that he lived here for nearly thirty years 
before marrying. In 1689, he took unto himself a wife who was Mary, 
daughter to Anthony Lawson, and they had three children: Anthony Walke 
(I),* Thomas Walke (II), and a daughter, Mary. Thomas Walke (I) 
died in 1694, making provision in land for his two sons. It is anachronistic 
to speak of these provisions here, but it must be mentioned that his executors 
purchased in 1697 the land which was to become Anthony Walke's manor 
of "Fairfield."'"" Its site is shown at the legend "Walkes" on the same section 
of the 1781 map that shows "Kemps," and it is identified as Fairfield Farms, 
Incorporated, on modern maps just south of Kempsville. 

In 1668, from Londonderry, came a young man who was to leave his 
name indelibly marked in the annals of this area. His grandfather. Captain 
Thomas Lawson of Northumberland, and grandmother (nee Margaret Bray) 
were on the ill-fated Sea Venture in 1609 when it was shipwrecked on 
Bermuda, as mentioned in a previous chapter. They arrived at Jamestown 
in 1610, and their son Anthony was born shortly thereafter. The latter was 
father of George Lawson and Anthony Lawson (II, 1634-1701), head of 
the line in Lower Norfolk. Anthony Lawson went to school in England and, 
after a sojourn there and in Northern Ireland, returned to settle in Lower 
Norfolk County in 1668, as noted above. This was Anthony Lawson, who 
settled first on the Eastern Branch adjoining the homes of Moseleys and 
Hancocks. He took as his wife Mary, the daughter of John Gookin and 
widow of the second William Moseley, and their children were: Thomas 
Lawson (I), who died in 1703; Mary, who married Thomas Walke (I), 
above mentioned; and Margaret, who married Colonel John Thorowgood 

* Named for his grandfather Lawson. 


(son of Adam (II) . Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Lawson was one of the 
feoffees in trust for Norfolk Town Lands under provisions of the Act of 
1680; the other feoffee was Captain William Robinson, also a resident of 
Lynnhaven Parish, who became owner of a town lot in 1689. Lawson is more 
familiarly connected with Lawson Hall, near present Diamond Springs, the 
original house there having burned down. The nearby Lawson Lake is of 
modern origin, a dammed-off branch of Little Creek. Lawson did not make 
his residence here until 1695.^'" The site is shown on the 1781 map at the 
legend "Lawson," which is separated in two parts, probably because of a 
repair in the paper. The same is true of "Thorowgood," just below it. 

Ensign Thomas Lambert (as he was known in 1640) left his name 
here on no other memorial than the Point on Elizabeth River which bears 
his name, patented by him in 1635. In 1648 (he was then known as Captain) 
he received a grant for a tract in Lynnhaven Parish called Puggett's Neck 
on Little Creek. In 1652, then a Major, Lambert was Burgess for Lower 
Norfolk; in 1671, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lambert died, leaving as 
heirs four daughters, and in the same year his four sons-in-law* recorded 
a deed of partition for the Puggett's Neck property. One of the four, 
John Weblin, received as his wife's share a tract which then had a house 
on it; it was not far from the Thorowgood and Wishard houses, with 
which it shares the honor of being the oldest in the County still standing. 
The Weblin house was described in detail in the Kellam volume; it has 
one gable, chimney and rear of English bond, the front of Flemish bond, 
and the other gable much more modern. All of which, with evidence of 
charred rafters under the roof, points to partial burning and a later re- 

Mention was made earlier of William Jermy, Clerk of Lower Norfolk 
County Court in 1665. He was probably identical with William Jeremie, 
who was listed as a headright in a land grant of 1664. If this be true, he 
had been in the County for some time then, for John Sibsey bequeathed to 
Jermy his "black hilted Rapier" in his will which was proved in August, 
1652. Jermy's own will tells us he lived in Lynnhaven Parish, died before 
15 January 1666/7, and that William Langley (II) was his godson. Going 
back to Sibsey — "John Sibsey of Elizabeth River, gentleman," as he called 
himself in his will — he also bequeathed a "pistle" to his brother-in-law, 
Thomas Lambert, and apparently his principal heir was his daughter, Mary, 
who was married to Richard Conquest, Sheriff, as previously noted. It is 
a long road from "John Sibsey, yeoman," in 1624 to "John Sibsey, gentle- 
man," with his dress sword in 1652, but here are seen the beginnings of a 
democratic society in which a man could improve his lot and move on to 

* George Fowler, Henry Snaile, John Weblin and Richard Drout. 


a higher social rank, a thing which was well nigh impossible in the Old 

John Watkins, mentioned earlier as one time owner of the site later to 
become Norfolk Town, died before 31 October 1648 (date of will probate), 
leaving his possessions to his widow, Frances, and son, John. Edward Lloyd 
was one of the "overseers" of the execution of the will, and soon the 
widow became Mistress Lloyd and the couple removed to Maryland."^ 
There are other names which should be mentioned here briefly, not because 
they are unimportant, but because only a few facts are known about them. 
There were Thomas Brinson (d. 1675) and his two sons, Matthew and John, 
who lived near what is now Dam Neck, then called Brinson's Inlet; the 
inlet has disappeared but the lagoon to which it gave access remains in the 
form of two bodies of water now called Salt Pond and Fresh Pond."* There 
was the Huggins family: Nicholas Huggins was a headright in James 
Wishard's patent of 1673; his cousin, Philip Huggins, was here also before 
1690. They left an interesting little house built about that time near present 
Lynnhaven Village, with an outside and an inside chimney like Thorowgood's, 
gabled ends in Flemish bond and weatherboard siding.""' There was Peter 
Hoggard, in the Colony (but not here) in 1654, probable father of the 
first Nathaniel Hoggard, who married a Miss Thurmer."" There were the 
Attwoods, Edward who married a daughter of the first Henry Woodhouse, 
and William his son, who owned land near the Brinsons at Salt and Fresh 
Ponds."^ There were the Sayers, Francis the Justice in 1671, and Charles of 
a later generation."'* There was Edward Old, here before 1680; and the 
Lands, Francis, the churchwarden in Lynnliaven Parish in 1647, and Renatus 
Land, his brother, who died in 1680."^ There were David Murray, Michael 
McCoy and William Whitehurst, who patented land about 1650 south of 
the Eastern Branch, part of which became "Level Green," later well-known 
seat of the Herbert family.'-*' And finally — with Biblical contradiction! — 
we mention John Gooch, whose name is only a goose-quill scrawl on a 
rapidly fading page, just as his person is a ghost vaguely seen through the 
mists of three centuries. His is the earliest will that this writer has seen in 
Lower Norfolk County records, written on 1 February 1639/40 and ad- 
mitted to probate at the March Court in 1 640/4 1.^'^ "It shows him to have 
been a resident of Lynnhaven Parish; his principal legatee was Dr. Thomas 
Bullock — "Thomas Bullock, sirgin," as he was called — whose name appears 
elsewhere in this chapter as vestryman. These and many other names, for 
which we have not the time and space, went into the making of Lower 
Norfolk County history. 

In closing this chapter, we wish to give a list of the Lower Norfolk 
representatives in the House of Burgesses from 1637 to 1691, insofar as they 



are known. ^" This list has been gleaned from several sources and is far 
from complete, but here are the Lower Norfolk Burgesses: 

Capt. John Sibsey, Robert Hayes 

Henry Seawell, John Hill 

Capt. John Sibsey, John Hill 

Henry Seawell, John Hill 

Capt. John Sibsey, John Hill 

John Hill, Edward Windham 

Cornelius Lloyd, Edward Windham 

Cornelius Lloyd, John Sidney 

Edward Lloyd, Thomas Meares, Christopher Burroughs 

Cornelius Lloyd, Christopher Burroughs 

Edward Lloyd, Thomas Meares, Robert Eyres 

John Sidney, Henry Woodhouse, Cornelius Lloyd, 

Thomas Meares 
Robert Eyres, Thomas Lambert 

Bartholomew Hoskin, Thomas Lambert, John Chandler 
Thomas Lambert, John Martin, Bartholomew Hoskin 
Thomas Lambert, Henry Woodhouse, 

Christopher Burroughs 
Lieut. Col. Cornelius Lloyd, Major Thomas Lambert, 

Christopher Burroughs 
Colonel Francis Yeardley, Colonel Cornelius Lloyd 
Bartholomew Hoskin, Lemuel Mason 
Colonel John Sidney, Lemuel Mason, Bartholomew 

Hoskin, Thomas Lambert, Capt. Richard Foster 

Colonel John Sidney, Major Lemuel Mason 

It will be noted from what has gone before that the number of Burgesses 
representing the County varied between two and five. This was changed by 
the Act of Assembly passed in March, 1661/2,"^ limiting to two the number 
of Burgesses each County could elect. There was no general election from 
1661 to 1676,^-* and the records of Burgesses' names, especially around the 
time of Bacon's uprising, are very incomplete: 

















November, 1645 



November, 1647 









November, 1652 



November, 1654 



1657/8 ■ 





September, 1663 
October, 1665(1 







Lemuel Mason 

Adam Thorowgood [II], William Carver 

Arthur Moseley, Richard Church 

Colonel Lemuel Mason 

Colonel Lemuel Mason, Captain William Robinson 

Anthony Lawson, William Craford 


In April, 1691, the General Assembly passed a law dividing Lower 
Norfolk County into two separate units to be thenceforth known as Norfolk 
County and Princess Anne County. The division was approximately on the 
line between the two parishes, and v^ithin a very few years an adjustment 
made it exactly on that line. In this way, Norfolk County and Elizabeth 
River Parish were identical in area, and Princess Anne County and Lynnhaven 
Parish were similarly coterminous. From this point on, their stories will be 
told separately. 

Notes on Chapter X 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 

1. See Chapter III. 

2. Loc. at. 

3. See Chapter IV. 

4. See Chapter IX. 

5. Virginia State Library Bulletin, IX, 198; 1H247. 

6. Butt, "Norfolk County Records." 

7. 1H224. 

8. Hartwell-Blair-Chilton, Virginia and the College, pp. 44-45. 

9. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book A (1637-1646), fol. 1. 

10. Ibid., Book A (1637-1646), Book B (1646-1652), Book C (1652-1656), Book D (1656- 
1666), Book E (1666-1675), Order Book (1675-1686, passim). 

11. Ibid., Book A, Book D. 

12. Ibid., Book D. 

13. Loc. cit. 

14. Ibid., Book E, p. 40. 

15. 2H241; Loicer Norfolk County Records. Book E, p. 94; ibid.. Book 5 (1686-1695). 

16. Beverley, History of Virginia, p. 268; Hartwell-Blair-Chilton, op. cit., p. 63. 

17. See Note 78, below. 

18. Stewart, History of Norfolk County, p. 34. 

19. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book D, p. 430. 

20. 1V447-450; Kellam. Princess Anne, p. 164; see also Jester, Domestic Life in Virginia, p. 35. 

21. Ibid., p. 182. 

22. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book A, pp. 41, 344. 

23. 1H413. 

24. 3N33. 

25. Mason, "Court Houses of Princess Anne and Norfolk Counties," p. 407. 

26. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book 5 (pt. I), p. 69. 

27. Mason, op. cit., pp. 407-8. 

28. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book 5 (pt. I), p. 206. 

29. Mason, "Norfolk County Churches," pp. 142-3; Mason, "Lynnhaven Parish Churches," p. 271. 

30. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book A, p. 10. 

31. Loc. cit., and quoted by Mason. 

32. Mason, "Norfolk County Churches," pp. 144-5. 

33. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book A, p. 39. 

34. Mason, op. cit., p. 146. 

35. Ibid., p. 147. 

36. Beverley, op. cit.. p. 261. 

37. Mason, op. cit., pp. 146-7. 

38. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book C. 

39. 1H250. 


-40. Lower Norjolk Coiiiily Records, Book A, p. 41. 

41. Mason, op. cil., pp. 140-1. 

42. Lower Norjolk Coiiiily Records, Book A, pp. 235-6. 

43. Ibid. 

44. Enc. Brit., XXII, 665, 289; IX, 450. 

45. E. L. Goodwin, Colonial Church, p. 277. 

46. Ibid., p. 300. 

47. Ibid., p. 266. 

48. Ibid., p. 257. 

49. Mason, op. cil., p. 154. 

50. Ibid., pp. 152-3. 

51. Ibid., p. 154. 

52. E. L. Goodwin, op. cil., p. 291. 

53. Ibid., p. 245. 

54. Borough Church, 17i9, p. 21. 

55. Chambtrlayne, "List of Ministers in Virginia, 1680," p. 467; this name has been previously 
misread as Wern and Ncrn. 

56. James, "Extracts from the Records," pp. 179-180. 

57. See Note 29, above. 

57a. Mcintosh, Loner Norfolk Count) Wills, p. 7. 

58. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book A, p. 42. 

59. See Note 41, above. 

60. Mason, "Lynnhaven Parish Churches," p. 279. 

61. See Note 27, above. 

62. This tradition has been perpetuated in the writings of Bishop Meade and of W. S. Forrest, 
neither one a careful or trained researcher, and of the Rev. C. B. Bryan, who did not hesitate 
to repeat Bishop Meade's misconceptions. (See Bibhography for these names.) 

63. Mason, op. cil., pp. 272-3. 

64. Meade, Old Churches . . . in Virginia. I, 247. 

65. Forrest, History of Norfolk, p. 459. 
65a. 5V435. 

66. E. L. Goodwin, op. cil., p. 299; see also note 55, above. 

67. See note 56, above, 

68. 1H397. 

69. Ingle, "Virginia Institutions," pp. 101-2. 

70. 2H106. 

71. Ibid., p. 172. 

72. Yonge, James Totcne, pp. 40-41. 

73. Wertenbaker, Torchbearer, p. 30. 

74. Executive journals, Council of Virginia, I, 532-6. 

75. 2H255-9. 

76. Ibid., p. 307. 

77. Ibid., pp. 471-8. 

78. Lower Norfolk County Records, Order Book (1675-1686), 19 October 1680, 19 October, 1681. 
'"). Wertenbaker, op. cil., pp. 28-30. 

80. Nugent, op. cit., p. ; see also Chapter XVII. 

81. Evans, Ships and Shipbuilding in ]'irginia, pp. 37-8. 

82. Kellam, Princess Anne, pp. 189-90. 

83. 2H103; Lower Norfolk County Records. Book E (part 2), 26. 

84. Rogers Dey Whichard, "Early Streets and Byways"; see also note 50, above. 

85. Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. 26 November 1950, 18 March 1956; Kellam, op. cil., pp. 41-5. 

86. Ibid. 

87. Forman, Virginia Architecture, p. 40; Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 30 April 1957; Norfolk 
Ledger-Star, 27 April 1957. 

88. William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Mich., "Clinton MS No. 267." 

89. See Tucker's article referred to in Note 85, above. 

90. Lefler, Contemporaries, pp. 13-4. 

91. 1V447-50; Lower Norfolk County Records, Book E. p. 126; Mcintosh, Lower Norfolk 
County Wills, p. 41. 

92. 2V385-6; 4V83-5; Loicer Norfolk County Records, Book 6, p. 258. 


93. 3N1J8-46. 

94. 19W(2) 195. 

95. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book E (pt. I), p. -40; Book E (pt. II), p. 26; Book D, 
p. 428; Book E, pp. 126, 122, 150; Virgtiiij Stale Land Office Recorcla. Book 5, p. 466; 
Book 6, p. 648; Loiter Norfolk County Records. Book 4, pp. 71, 95. 156. 

96. Kellam, op. cit.. pp. 49-53; Forman, op. cit., pp. 39-40. 

97. See Note 88, above. 

98. 15V229. 

99. Princess Atine Cauiily Records. Book 1, p. 189; Kellam, op. cit., pp. 205-6; Mcintosh. 
op. cit., p. 38. 

100. All of these details have been related earlier in this chapter; see also Ames, Re.iding, Writiiii; 
and Arithmetic, p. 21. 

101. See Chapter XII. 

102. Nugent, op. cit.. pp. 75. Ill; Lower Norfolk Coi/iity Records. Book C, p. 158; Mcintosh, 
op. cit., p. 11. 

103. Lower Norfolk County Records. Book D, p. 430; Nugent, op. cit., p. 565; Lower Norfolk 
County Records. Book E. p. 135; Mcintosh, op. cit., p. 36. 

104. Kyle, "Cavalier William Moseley," Kellam, op. cit.. pp. 130-1; Mcintosh, op. cit., p. 16: 
see note 55a, above. 

105. Kellam, op. cit., pp. 132-4; Lower Norfolk County Records. Book 5, pp. 23, 99. 

106., op. cit., pp. 67, 87-8; Mcintosh, op. cit.. p. 17. 

107. Kellam, op. cit., pp. 105-7 

108. Ibid., pp. 57-62. 

109. Ibid., pp. 173-6. 

110. Ibid., pp. 219-23 

111. Ibid., pp. 36-7, 53-5. 

112. Nugent, op. cit., p. 434; Mcintosh, op. cit.. pp. 9, 22. 

113. Ibid., p. 5; Squires "Bygone Days," CCCXXX. 

114. Kellam, op. cit., pp. 142-3. 

115. Ibid., pp. 76-7. 

116. Kyle, "PopKir Hall." 

117. Kellam, op. cit., p. 215. 

118. Ibid., p. 224; see above. Note 10. 

119. Kellam, op. cit., pp. 222, 96. 

120. Ibid,, p. 83. 

121. Mcintosh, op. cit., p. 3. 

122. Stanard, Colonial Virginia Register, pp. 60-89; see also Squires, "Bygone Days," CCCXXX 

123. 2H106; see also Note 70, above. 

124. Stanard, loc. cit. 

Chapter XI 

The County of Norfolk 


A S INDICATED AT the end of the preceding chapter, Lower Norfolk 

/\ County was, by Act of April, 1691, divided into two separate units 

/ % to be named Norfolk County and Princess Anne County. The present 

chapter has to do with the separate existence of the first-named of these two 

divisions, and the story ot Princess Anne County will be told in a later 


The statement is generally made and accepted that the common boundary 
of Norfolk and Princess Anne Counties, as established in 1691, was identical 
with that set up between Elizabeth River and Lynnhaven Parishes in March, 
1642/3, nearly four years after the separate establishment of these two 
parishes, which probably took place in the latter part of 1639. This statement 
is only approximately true and should be qualified somewhat for more com- 
plete accuracy. It will be recalled that the Act of March, 1642/3," gave the 
beginning point of the boundary as the mouth of Little Creek, more spe- 
cifically "the first creek shooting out of Chesopeiack bay called the Little 
Creek," and continued with the customary vagueness to include "all the 
branches of the said creek," thence to the head of Lynnhaven River, including 
"all the branches of the said River," thence to the head of the Eastern 
Branch of Elizabeth River and to Broad Creek on its north side and to 
Indian Creek (now River) on its south side. This has been interpreted to 
mean, as previously indicated,^ running from the Little Creek Terminal up 
its main branch to the Norfolk City Waterworks, down Broad Creek and 
crossing the Eastern Branch to Indian River. The boundary was not further 
specified because, it will be recalled, the Southern Shore Parish (soon to 
disappear) existed on the then sparsely inhabited south bank of the Eastern 

The "Act For deviding Lower Norfolk County" (April, 1691),* gave a 
somewhat more specific but no less confusing boundary. It began at "the 
>!ew inlet of Little Creeke and so up the said creeke to the dams between 
Jacob Johnson and Richard Drout" — this was possibly where the Municipal 
Airport now is "up a branch at the head of which is the dwelling house 


of William Moseley Sen', and the new dwelling house of Edward Webh" — • 
this was possibly the branch of Little Creek extending toward present 
Camden Heights — "and so to run from the head of the said branch in a 
direct line to the dams at the head of the eastern branch of Elizabeth 
River between James Kemp and Tho^ Ivy" — this was certainly the present 
village of Kempsville. From there, the line is easy to follow on a modern 
map: down the Eastern Branch, not to Indian River, but to a small "gut" 
east of it where James Porter lived, thence overland to the "great swamp 
east of Jno. Showlands" — this was a point on the KempsviUe-Great Bridge 
road a mile southwest of Bethel Church — "along the great swamp* to the 
North River** of Coratucke and down the said North River to the mouth 
of Simpson's Creek" — the first creek south of the Albemarle and Chesapeake 
Canal — "up the said creek to the head thereof, from thence by a south 
line to the bounds of Carolina ..." 

Within a very short time the inconsistency of this boundary was noted, 
and steps were taken to rectify it. In April, 1695, the Assembly passed "An 
Act to Extend the bounds of Princess Anne County." In this act it was 
noted that complaints had been received from "the inhabitants of Princess 
Anne County and that part of Norfolk County which belongs to Lynnhaven 
Parish," and it was enacted "that the limits of Princess Anne County be 
enlarged and extended to coincide with the bounds of Lynhaven Parish."' 
This refers to the triangle bounded by Broad Creek, Eastern Branch and a 
line from Norfolk City Waterworks to Kempsville, which area was, by this 
1695 law, thrown into Princess Anne where it belonged. Another confusion 
as to the line was not resolved until fairly recent years. This arose from 
the fact that, in 1691, the boundary was said to begin at "the new inlet 
of Little Creek." It is impossible to determine what this means, in the light 
of the known opening and closing of inlets and alterations in water courses 
as a result of shifting sands on the shore and coast. It was evidently inter- 
preted to mean a point about two miles west of the present Little Creek 
entrance — at what is now First Street, East Ocean View — which is the 
present Princess Anne County line. As late as 1907, two United States Coast 
and Geodetic Survey maps* respectively show the line beginning at the 
two places. Thus even fifty years ago, the area bounded by the present 
Military Highway and the two westernmost branches of Little Creek was 
shown on two official maps as being in each county. 

The first Court for Norfolk County, held after the Dividing Act of April, 
1691, was composed of the following gentlemen as Justices: 

* Now the Norfolk County Reservoir and Gum Swamp. 
** Now North Landing River. 

* Copies of which are in my possession. — Ed. note. 


Colonel Lemuel Mason 

Captain Williana Robinson 

Captain John Hatton 

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Lawson 

Captain William Craford 

Major John Nichols 

Mr. James Wilson" 

Most of these names are familiar from other associations. One curious fact 
should be noted: Robinson and Lawson, it will be recalled, were feoffees 
for the Norfolk Town land and were both residents of Lynnhaven Parish; 
they lived on the Eastern Branch of Elizabeth River in that section which 
did not become part of Princess Anne County until 1695, as noted above. 
The curious thing is that they both continued as feoffees for the town 
after they were no longer residents of Norfolk County; Robinson until his 
death in 1696 and Lawson until his death in 1701. 

Much of the early history of Norfolk County will be found treated in 
more detail in the chapters on the two largest municipalities — Norfolk and 
Portsmouth — which were once included within the county's boundaries, 
though now (in accordance with Virginia law) independent of it. Such 
details will be cross-referenced with footnotes as we proceed. It will be re- 
called that the second attempt to establish towns by law in the Colony — the 
first in 1680 having failed — was made in 1691 by the same Assembly which 
passed the law dividing Lower Norfolk County. Immediately provisions were 
made to build a new Court House on the lot in Norfolk Town which had 
been reserved for that purpose when the town was surveyed in 1680; earlier 
plans to build there in 1687 and 1689 had not materialized. Colonial builders 
usually took up to three years to complete a building which, with modern 
tools and methods, could be finished in less than a year; the new Norfolk 
County Court House was no exception, and there is evidence it was not put 
in use until 1694. Thus the Lower Norfolk County Court House,* which 
had been built over thirty years earlier (1661), and had served as Norfolk 
County's first court house for a few years (1691-1694), was abandoned and 
Norfolk Town became the County Seat and so remained until after the 
Revolution.'^ This, of course, heralded an enormous increase in activity and 
growth of the town, as will be noted in the following chapter. 

Norfolk County profited by the general plans to improve communications 
in the Colony at this time. Another ferry was established on Elizabeth River 
in 1702 from Norfolk Town to present Lovett's Point (West Norfolk), and 
it is to be assumed that the earlier ferry (1636) between the sites of 
Norfolk and Portsmouth was still in operation. In 1705, a ferry was estab- 

* Near Moore's Bridges, if we may hazard a guess. 


lished from Seawell's Point to Hampton, and a law was passed providing 
for roads to be built connecting Williamsburg, the new capital, with each 
parish church, county court house, public mill and ferry.* 

Also in 1705, a third unsuccessful attempt was made to establish towns 
by law, this one being much more ambitious than the others in that a real 
municipal government was planned. At this time, the towns (or boroughs), 
ports and markets were given proper names instead of being simply called 
"the town of such-and-such a county," and Norfolk's county seat was 
officially christened "Norfolk Town." This essay, like the previous ones, 
was brought to nought by being suspended, since the law was never approved 
by the Crown." 

A county jail or prison had been built on the court house lot, probably 
at the same time as the Court House; in any case it is known to have been 
there shortly after 1700. The Court House itself, after having served for 
nearly four decades, was replaced by a new and more pretentious edifice 
on the same site in 1726. This was to continue in use until the destruction 
of Norfolk in 1776. The first school in Norfolk County was established in 
Norfolk Town and trustees appointed in 1728. It was to be located on the 
lot provided for that purpose in Norfolk Town when it was surveyed in 
1680, though no building was erected until 1762. After the Borough of 
Norfolk was chartered in 1736, the school was placed under the joint control 
of the Justices of the Norfolk County Court and the Mayor, Recorder and 
Aldermen of the Borough.'" 

On 15 September 1736, the Corporation of the Borough of Norfolk was 
chartered by Act of Assembly. Its Mayor and Aldermen were set up as a 
Hustings Court for the Borough, but this Court was not a court of record 
for deeds and wills, and was given jurisdiction only in minor civil suits; 
hence the Borough was still largely under the jurisdiction of the Justices 
of the County Court.'' The Borough used the County Court House and 
Prison until it got one of its own well after 1752; the first Borough Town 
Hall and Court House seems to have been built about 1755, and was 
probably placed on the Court House lot between the County Court House 
and Prison. After the Borough was almost completely destroyed in January, 
1776, apparently the Borough Court House was repaired and put back into 
service, but the County Court House was not; from 1777 until 1785 the 
County Court sat and held its sessions in the Town Hall, and at the same 
time rented various private rooms or buildings for lesser tribunals and as 
a repository for records. Among the private premises so used were the house 
of Mrs. Eunice Smith in August, 1776, the house of Edmund Allmand from 
1777 to 1779; and before 1785, rooms at Pat McCauley's, William Smith's 
and Abram Wormington's, and at "Westwood," the home of Samuel Boush 
[III] near Great Bridge.^" 


Meanwhile the Borough Court had petitioned the General Assembly in 
1782 that it be made a court of record and be given criminal jurisdiction. 
This petition was acted on favorably and its provisions were granted and 
put into effect in 1784. It was thus not logical that the County Court should 
hold its sessions in an area independent from it and over which it had no 
jurisdiction. Therefore, a movement was begun in 1785 to shift the County 
Court outside Norfolk, which culminated in November, 1789, when the 
Assembly passed "An Act to remove the Court of the County of Norfolk 
without the Borough of Norfolk." Almost immediately (1790-91) the County 
Commissioners sold the court house lot in Norfolk, which had been in use 
since about 1691, and set about to build a new Court House at Washington 
Point,* where the County Jail had been since November, 1790. The Court 
House was completed in June, 1792, and county commissioners for both court 
house and jail were Thomas Nash, Thomas Newton, Charles Odean, Samuel 
Veale, Thomas Bressie, and William Boushell. This Court House is still 
standing — though much altered — at the southwest corner of Walnut (formerly 
Washington) and Pine Streets; the jail has disappeared.^^ 

The Court House did not long remain at Washington Point. By Act 
of January, 1801, it was authorized to be removed "from the town of 
Washington to the town of Portsmouth." The finished Court House and 
Jail there were received in July, 1802, the former being on the northeast 
corner of Court and High Streets where the Hotel Monroe later stood. The 
jail and clerk's office (part of which still exists in the present clerk's office) 
were opposite on the northwest corner. The present County Court House, 
which also contains the offices of Commissioner of the Revenue, County 
Treasurer, Sheriff, etc., was finished and occupied in 1846 on that same 
northwest corner of Court and High Streets." In the little clerk's office just 
to the west may be seen the priceless Lower Norfolk County records, referred 
to previously, extending in almost unbroken sequence from 1 May 1637. 

When the town of Portsmouth (established by law in 1752) received 
its city charter in 1858, the County Court again found itself operating in 
a territory over which it had no jurisdiction. This has not seemed to hinder 
its harmonious operation, and it still continues to hold its sessions in the 
1846 Court House. As this is being written, however, there are heard ex- 
pressions of dissatisfaction and proposals to move to a more central location. 
Such proposals arise from the fact that all the county's area north of 
Elizabeth River has been lost through annexation to the City of Norfolk and 
large portions have been similarly lost south of that River not only to 
Norfolk, but also to Portsmouth and South Norfolk. The County Seat is, 
therefore, now located almost at the northernmost edge of the County and 
outside its territory, a thing which is most inconvenient for those living in 

* Formerly Powder Point, later Ferry Point, and now Berkley, a part of the city of Norfolk. 

Va. 19 



places like Wallaceton, Hickory and Northwest, the latter over twenty miles 
from the Court House. 

( Courlesy Porlsmoulh Chambaf of Commerce) 

The history of the Anglican Church in Norfolk County follows the 
usual pattern of church history in other localities: a parish coterminous 
with the County, containing a centrally-located parish church and outlying 
chapels of ease; and subsequent division of the parish, when the county 
became too populous to be ministered to as a single unit. Elizabeth River 
Parish, established (as we have seen) in 1639, was intended to be the basis 


for the extent of Norfolk County when Lower Norfolk was divided in 1691, 
and parish and county did in fact become coterminous after the previously- 
mentioned adjustment of boundary in 1695. The second parish church — in 
use on the north side of Elizabeth River between Lambert's Point and 
Town Point since 1655-9 — continued to serve for about nine years after the 
county's establishment. Then, with the growth in size and importance of 
Norfolk Town after the Court House was completed in 1694, it was decided 
to relocate the Parish Church on the lot which had been reserved for that 
purpose when the town was surveyed in 1680. This principle of keeping 
the judicial and ecclesiastical administration close together was one which 
was closely adhered to throughout our Colonial period, and has been fre- 
quently noted elsewhere in these pages. Accordingly, construction was begun 
at some time after the middle of 1698 and the third Elizabeth River Parish 
Church was completed and put in service in 1700.'" 

Like the Court House in Norfolk Town, the parish church was soon 
outgrown by the rapid increase of population in both county and town. 
About the time Norfolk was chartered as a borough in 1736, the vestry 
must have decided to provide a more imposing church building for the parish. 
The edifice then begun was completed in 1739 — if one may judge from the 
date on its south transcept — and was fashioned in the shape of a Latin 
cross, with the long arm due east and west and the chancel in the head of 
the cross to the east, as was then customary in Anglican churches. This is the 
building which, though partially destroyed in January, 1776, was on several 
occasions altered and restored and continues in use today under the name of 
Old Saint Paul's Church, a more recent organization. This church, begun 
about the time the Borough was chartered, was traditionally called the 
Borough Church until the end of the eighteenth century, though this name 
never appeared in any surviving record that we have seen.'* 

In addition to its successive parish churches, Elizabeth River Parish 
was provided with three chapels of ease for the convenience of parishioners 
in distant areas. As noted in the previous chapter, they were the Western 
Branch Chapel (1653), the Tanner's Creek Chapel (l66l) and the Southern 
Branch Chapel (1662); they served roughly the western, northern and 
southern sections of the parish. The first two apparently continued in use 
until the time of the Revolution, but the third did not remain on its 
original site long after 1691. This information is contained in the Journal 
of the House of Burgesses under date of 30 August 1701, in the form of 
"A Grievance from Norfolk County complaining that a Chapell of Ease 
formerly built by the inhabitants of the Southerne Branch Precinct of the 
said County is pulled down and rebuilt in an inconvenient place." The 
original site was on the east side of the Southern Branch almost opposite tlie 
mouth of Paradise Creek, and the site to which it had been moved in 1701 


was at the place called Great Bridge.* This was the place William Byrd re- 
ferred to, during his journey into Carolina in 1728, as "the long bridge built 
over the Southern Branch." This chapel was still called Southern Branch 
Chapel in April, 1728, when a return of births and deaths was made to 
H. M. Secretary's Office, but had come to be called Great Bridge Chapel 
by October, 1749, when the only survivmg Colonial Vestry Book was 
opened. It suffered considerable damage at the time of the Revolution — 
particularly during the Battle of Great Bridge — but w^as apparently not com- 
pletely abandoned and dismantled until 1845.'' 

Mention was made in the previous chapter of the Reverend Josias 
Mackie, a Presbyterian minister, who served Elizabeth River Parish until 
he was discharged by Governor Nicholson for his non-conformist views 
in 1691 or 1692. He was then pastor of the only two meetings for re- 
ligious worship besides the Church of England which were permitted in 
this immediate vicinity at that time. One of these was certified by Norfolk 
Ct)unty Court Order on 15 August 1692, as being held in a house on Thomas 
Ivy's land on the Eastern Branch.* It will be recalled from the recital of 
the boundary of the 1691 Act, that Ivy's land was next to Kempe's at the 
head of the Eastern Branch, hence fell into Princess Anne County when the 
line was corrected in 1695. Thus both of Parson Mackie's dissenting flocks 
met in Princess Anne County; however, he apparently continued to live in 
Norfolk County, for there his will was proved on 7 November 1716. It is 
An interesting document telling his place of origin, since it names his father, 
Patrick Mackie of St. Johnston, County Donegal; Parson Mackie also made 
bequests to Elizabeth and John, daughter and son of James Wishard [II] 
and his wife Mary, and to Mary and William, daughter and son of Jacob 
Johnson [II} and his wife Margaret. This is another of those complicated 
relationships caused by several intermarriages among families: Margaret 
Johnson was daughter of William Langley [H], and sister to Elizabeth, wife 
of George Ivy (related to the owner of the house the meeting was held in?) 
and to Joyce, who later (1732) married another John Wishard, cousin to 
the one mentioned here. Also, since James Wishard [I] married William 
Langley [II] s sister Elizabeth, the Wishard and Johnson children mentioned 
in Mackie's will were third cousins! The interesting possibility is also 
suggested that some, at least, of the Wishards, Johnsons, Langleys and Ivys 
may have been members of Parson Mackie's congregation.^* 

After Mackie's dismissal in 1692, it does not appear that there was a 
regularly inducted minister in Elizabeth River Parish for at least seven years. 

* The site of the chapel is now at the southwest corner of State Routes 170 and 640. 

* The other, as will be noted in Chapter XX, was certified by Princess Anne County Court 
Order of 6 September 1693, as being on Edward Cooper's land; this was on Wolf Snare Creek, where 
the first Eastern Shore Chapel was in 1689. 


During that time, Reverend Jonathan Saunders was minister in Lynnhaven 
Parish (1695-1700) and may possibly have supphed in Elizabeth River also. 
Here are the names of the ministers who served Elizabeth River Parish until 
its division in 1761: 

1699- William Rudd 

1709 Roger Kelsall 

1710-1714 James McMoran 

1720 James Falconer 

1724- John Garzia 

1727-1729 John Marsden 

1729-1743 Moses Robertson 

1743-1761 Charles Smithi" 

The first complete governing body of Elizabeth River Parish, which is 
known, is that contained in the deed of sale for the Old Glebe dated 
16 January 1734/5: 

John Ellegood, Churchwarden 
Colonel George Newton 

Major Samuel Boush [11] 
Stephen Wright 
John Corprew 
Thomas Wright 
Willis Wilson 


The Vestry Book (see below) contains some loose sheets of Births and Deaths 
dated 18 April 1728 and signed by Thomas Nash [11] as clerk of the 
Southern Branch Chapel. 

This only surviving Vestry Book or Parish Register (1749-1761)-^ furnishes 
further information on Churchwardens and Vestrymen. Its beginning date, 
10 October 1749, gives the following vestry: 

Colonel George Newton* 
Colonel William Craford 
Colonel Samuel Boush {II} 
Captain William Hodges 
Captain Willis Wilson, Jr. * 
Mr. Charles Sweny* 
Captain James Ivy 
Captain John Phripp* 
Mr. Samuel Boush, Jr. [Ill]* 

The same source also tells of changes or replacements in the Vestry before 

1761, as follows: 

(^ f^ ^ u i-7^n \^°^- Robert Tucker 

9 October 1750 ' ^ wm- t * 

/Capt. Wi ham Ivy* 



Matthew Godfrey, Jr.* 

James Webb* 

Capt. Thomas Newton* 
^ Major John Willoughby 
)Capt. George Veale 

Robert Tucker, Jr. 

Other minor parish officers at this time were listed in the Vestry Book 
as follows: 

20 October 


22 October 


21 October 


30 October 


20 November 


10 October 1749 James Pasteur 

Thomas Nash [III]** 
Sampson Powers 

Samuel PoM'ers 

John Hodges 

Richard Edins 

rClerk of the Vestry 
J Clerk of the Parish Church 
i Sexton of the Parish Church 
Clerk of Great Bridge Chapel 
Clerk of Western Branch 

Clerk of Tanner's Creek 

Sexton of Great Bridge 

Sexton of Western Branch 

More will be said of James Pasteur in a later chapter; upon his ordination 
as a minister he was succeeded as clerk of the vestry by George Chamberlaine 
on 20 October 1753. Sampson Powers was followed by Thomas Cranberry 
as clerk of the Western Branch Chapel on 21 October 1755, and Josh Bruce 
replaced Richard Edins as sexton at the same place on 17 October 1760. 
On 20 April 1761, it was 

Ordered that Robert Tucker Gent, apply to John Randolph Esq. clerk of the 
house of Burgesses for a Copy of the Law for Dividing the Parish of Eliza- 
beth River. 

And here is the last entry in the Vestry Book: 

Here end every Transaction of the Vestry of Elizabeth River Parish till the said 
Vestry was dissolved and the said Parish was divided into three distinct 
Parishes as per the Act of Assembly past April 6th 1761. Transferred to the 
new Vestry Book of Elizabeth River Parish, 1761. 

Unfortunately, this new book did not survive the vicissitudes of war. 

The act above referred to stated that the Vestry was dissolved "on 
account of illegal practises [and] oppressing its inhabitants," but was not 
more specific. The bounds of the three new parishes were set forth: Elizabeth 

* Served as churchwarden from time to time. 

'* Succeeded his father (d. 1735) in same office, though tlie ch.ipel was then called Southern 
Branch Chapel. 


River Parish, comprising all that part of Norfolk County north of the 
Elizabeth River and its Eastern Branch; St. Brides Parish, taking in all the 
county south of the Eastern Branch and east of the Southern Branch; and 
Portsmouth Parish taking in all the county south of the Elizabeth River and 
west of the Southern Branch. The southern part of the county was presumably 
divided by a line running north and south, an extension of the north-south 
portion of the Southern Branch. The act further stated that Matthew Godfrey, 
deceased, devised to the poor of the parish, by his will dated 13 March 
1715/16, 100 acres of land and some slaves; these were to be divided among 
the three new parishes. Also to be divided was the money levied for building 
walls around the churchyard, showing that these walls had not then been 

In spite of the implied censure of its members, some of the dissolved 
vestry were re-elected, four in Elizabeth River and two each in Portsmouth 
and St. Bride's, as will appear below. Of course, some had died in the 
meantime, and the only ones we can say with certainty were not re-elected 
were the two Newtons (George and his son Thomas), Samuel Boush III 
(his father died in 1759), and Major (later Colonel) John Willoughby. 

Although no Vestry Book has been preserved after April, 1761, the 
election of vestries for the three new parishes was recorded in the Count)' 
Court minutes for June of that year.-- The vestrymen for Elizabeth River 
Parish were: 

Matthew Godfrey Saunders Calvert 

John Hutchings Lewis Hansford 

Joshua Nicholson Charles Sweny 

Georg Abyvon Christopher Perkins 

Robert Tucker [11] John Tucker 

William Orange William Ivy 

Four of these (Godfrey, Robert Tucker, Sweny and Ivy) had been members 
of the dissolved vestry. Those elected for Portsmouth Parish were: 

John Tatem William Craford 

Thomas Creech Jeremiah Creech 

James Ives Richard Carney 

John Ferebee Giles Randolph 

George Veale John Herbert 

Thomas Veale Thomas Grimes 

Two of these (George Veale and Craford) had been on the dissolved 
vestry. For Saint Bride's, the following were elected: 

Henry Herbert John Wilson 

William Smith James Webb 

John Portlock Robert Tucker, Jr. [Ill] 


Thomas Nash, Jr. [IV] Samuel Happer 

James Wilson Malachi Wilson 

Joshua Carprew William Happer 

It so happens that names of the churchwardens for Saint Bride's at this time 
were preserved, tliough not those of the other parishes. They were William 
Smith and John Portlock, named in a deed of 1763, and Malachi Wilson and 
William Happer, named in a deed of 1768.-^ 

A word should be said about the fate of the three chapels after tlie 
division of the parish in 1761. Since this division was made along the lines 
of the areas served by the chapels, it is natural that the latter should have 
become chapels of the new parishes, and this is what happened. The Western 
Branch Chapel became a chapel of ease for Portsmouth Parish, and dis- 
appeared after the Revolution. A new parish church was completed in 
Portsmouth Town in 1762, and continues in use today — though many times 
rebuilt, altered and restored — as Trinity Episcopal Church at the southwest 
corner of High and Court Streets. Another chapel of ease for Portsmouth 
Parish was erected at Deep Creek about 1762, and also disappeared after 
the Revolution. It stood near the northwest corner of State route 166 and 
U.S. 17. The Borough Church in Norfolk continued in use as parish church 
of the reduced Elizabeth River Parish, and Tanner's Creek Chapel was its 
chapel of ease. This chapel was abandoned after the Revolution, but was 
soon repaired and again put in use by a new Baptist congregation, as will 
appear below.^* 

Like Portsmouth Parish, Saint Bride's got a new church in 1762. It stood 
at the southwest corner of State Routes 170 and 614. It is said to be probable 
that the Great Bridge Chapel, previously mentioned, served as parish church 
until the new church was completed, and then continued in use as a chapel 
of ease for this parish. It is unlikely that either church or chapel was used 
for worship after the Revolution, though they were not dismantled until 
some time later, in 1853 and 1845 respectively. The present Saint Bride's 
Episcopal Church in Berkley represents a modern revival of the old name in 
1923, by the union of Samt Paul's, Berkley (1867), and Saint Thomas's 
(1886). The present building was erected in 1911."® 

The ministers who served the three parishes of Norfolk County, until 
the Revolution and shortly thereafter, were as follows: 

Elizabeth River Parish: 1762- Alexander Rhonald 

1766- Thomas Davis, Sr. 

1773-1776 Thomas Davis, Jr. 

1786-1788 Walker Maury 

1789-1790 Alexander Whitehead 

1790-1800 James Whitehead 

1790-1803 William Bland 



Portsmouth Parish: 

Saint Bride's Parish: 





Charles Smith 
John Braidfoot 
Arthur Emmerson, Jr. 
George Young 
James Pasteur 
John H. Rowland 
Emmanuel Jones, III 
Needier Robinson 
James Morris 
John Matthews 

The incumbents of Elizabeth River and Portsmouth Parishes being residents 
of Norfolk and Portsmouth respectively, their story more properly belongs 
in those chapters.-*^ As for the Saint Bride's ministers, the Reverend James 
Pasteur's early career as a schoolmaster will be told later. He was ordained 
in London and licensed for Virginia in 1733 and the following year returned 
to Norfolk as a lecturer (reader). He became minister in Bath Parish 
(Dinwiddle County) in 1755 and probably remained there until the be- 
ginning of his incumbency in Saint Bride's. He was in the latter parish 
certainly by 1763 and probably from its inception in 1761. In 1770 he 
married Leticia, daughter of Willis Langley,* member of an old Norfolk 
County family mentioned elsewhere in these pages. He continued as minister 
of Saint Bride's Parish until his death in 1774. Emmanuel Jones, third 
minister of this name, was a student at William and Mary College from 
1772 to 1774, and was ordained and licensed in the latter year. His uncle 
of the same name was Master of the Indian School at the College for 
twenty-two years (1755-1777), and his grandfather — the first Emmanuel 
Jones — was an Oxonian (Oriel College, 1692), a visitor of the College of 
William and Mary, and minister of Petsworth Parish (Gloucester), 1700- 
1739. Reverend John H. Rowland was a Loyalist; he is said to have assisted 
Lord Dunmore with information on the activities and sympathies of his 
patriot parishioners to such an extent that many of the latter were permanently 
alienated from the Church. In fact, Captain James Wilson, a vestryman since 
1761, gave the land on which Hickory Ground Methodist Church (to be 
mentioned below) was built, and many local people became Methodists. 
Parson Rowland finally left these parts for New York and became Chaplain 
of the Loyalist Second Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers. Needier Robinson 
later became minister of Dale Parish (Chesterfield County) for a while, 
and died in 1823. Of Parson Morris little is known save his name listed in 
Church Convention Journals; Matthews came to Saint Bride's after a long 
incumbency in Saint Anne's (Essex County) . In addition to marriages per- 

*A shipwright: son of Capt. Lemuel Langley (d. 1748), grandson of Thomas (d. 1717), 
great grandson of William I (d. 1676). 


formed by the above ministers of the three parishes, Norfolk County records 
list ceremonies by Jesse Nicholson in 1799, by Jeremiah Rutter in 1800, and 
by James Dawley in 1807; it is not specified in these records which parish 
they officiated in, or even what faith they adhered to.-' 

The first non-conformist congregations in this neighborhood were, as 
we have seen, composed of Anglicans with Presbyterian leanings. In addition 
to Parson Mackie, another Presbyterian pioneer in these parts was the 
Reverend Francis Makemie, who was entertained by Anthony Lawson in 
1683. It must be remembered that there were quite a few settlers here- 
abouts of Scotch blood, such as Lawsons, Robinsons, Crafords (Crawfords), 
etc.^"* Other denominations were not established in Norfolk County until 
after the Revolution, and the most important of them were Baptists and 
Methodists. The John Asplund Register of Baptist Churches (1791)"" lists 
three churches in Norfolk County. Of these, the Blackwater Church (1774) 
was so listed in error since it was in Princess Anne, and the Portsmouth 
Church (1789) belongs to the story of that town. The third one was the 
Upper Bridge or Northwest River Bridge Church and was constituted in 
1782. First served by itinerant preachers, it had as its first regular pastor 
Elder Jacob Grigg who remained there until 1802. In 1803, Elder Dempey 
Casey became pastor and a prominent lay leader was James Grimes; the 
membership was then fifty-two. In 1818, the original meetinghouse was de- 
stroyed by fire; a new building was completed in 1821, at which time it was 
called Northwest Baptist Church, the name it still bears.^** The first Methodist 
churches in Norfolk County were the one at Oak Grove* just north of Great 
Bridge and the one at Hickory Ground, the latter founded in 1790.^* The 
Baptist Church constituted at Shoulder's Hill in Nansemond County in 1785 
now goes by the name Churchland Baptist Church and is in Norfolk County 
on the Western Branch near West Norfolk. This site is about six miles 
from the first one and was first occupied in 1829, at which time the body 
was knowii as the Sycamore Hill Baptist Church .^- 

Mention has previously been made of Tanner's Creek Chapel of Elizabeth 
River Parish. It seems to have been abandoned in 1785, and in 1828 was 
repaired and put back in service as a Baptist meetinghouse; the following 
year (1829) this congregation was formally constituted as the Tanner's 
Creek Baptist Church. There is some confusion as to its later fate, but 
apparently the old building was dismantled and rebuilt in 1836 at the corner 
of Old Ocean View Road and Seawell's Point (now Little Creek) Road; 
it was then rechristened Salem Baptist Church. In 1870, a new building 
was built on the latter site through the generosity of J. Hardy Hendren, a 
member of Freemason Street Baptist Church, in memory of his father, the 

* Not to be confused with the Baptist Church by this name in Princess Anne County, originally 
the Pungo Baptist Church (see Chapter XX). 



first pastor of Tanner's Creek Church, Reverend Jeremiah Hendren (1829- 
1864). There were two other "ante-bellum" Baptist churches in Norfolk 
County: they were called, from their location. Pleasant Grove (1845) and 
Lake Drummond (1850).^* In Norfolk County records there is a deed of 
1 September 1808 made by Lemuel Denby and Margaret, his wife, for a 
small tract on Seawell's Point Road to be used for a Methodist Church. 
Like Nimmo's Church in Princess Anne, this one took the name of the 
donor and was called Denby Methodist Church. Its yard was soon used as 
a burial ground and in it can still be seen two grave stones of 1826. It was 
at the corner of a road called Denby Church Road or Ironmonger's Road 
(it led to Ironmonger's farm on Mason's Creek) which touched the south 
edge of present Forest Lawn Cemetery. The road has now been closed, and 
the church's name was changed in recent years to Wesley Memorial. 

The Norfolk County records contain many references to those gentlemen 
who qualified as officers in H. M. Colonial Militia. Such qualification, as 
noted in a previous chapter, probably consisted in producing the commission 
in Court and taking the oath of office. The following (with rank and date 
of qualifying) are some of the officers of Norfolk County Colonial Militia: 

Colonel John Wilson 
Captain Thomas Hodges 
Captain George Mason 
Lieut. Colonel George Newton 
Captain Willis Wilson 
Captain Lewis Conner 
Colonel William Craford 

County Lieutenant* 
Lieutenant James Wilson 

"in Capt. Willis Wilson's Company' 
Captain John Willoughby 

"Captain of a Company on the 

north side of Tanner's Creek" 
Captain John Portlock 
Captain Thomas Veale 
Captain Joshua Carprew 
Captain Robert Burgess 
Captain Marcom** Herbert 
Captain William Hodges 
Colonel Robert Tucker 

County Lieutenant* 

10 March 


15 September 1748 
15 September 1748 
15 September 1748 

16 August 1752 

16 August 1752 

16 August 1752 

28 September 1752 

28 September 1752 

20 September 1753 

20 March 1760*** 

* Chief militia officer of the County. 
** Malcom, spelled phonetically. 

*** In addition to those listed, fifteen others qualified on this date, a few of whom had already 
qualified in 1752. (See Stewart, Norfolk County, p. 34, for complete list.) 

20 March 


20 March 


20 March 


20 March 


20 March 


19 June 


18 March 


18 March 


18 March 


18 March 


15 October 


18 February 


18 February 


18 March 


18 March 


17 August 


17 August 



Captain Thomas Talbot 
Captain Stephen Wright 
Lieutenant Thomas Nash, Jr. [IV] 
Lieutenant John Herbert 
Charles Stewart, Gent. 

"Quartermaster Norfolk County Militia" 
Lieutenant Samuel Bacon 
Captain David Porter 
Lieutenant Giles Randolph 
Lieutenant Jerome Creech 
Ensign George Wright Burgess 
Colonel John Willoughby* 

"Lieutenant and Chief Commander 

of Count)- Militia" 
Colonel Josiah Wilson 
Lieutenant Colonel George Veale 
Lieutenant Caleb Herbert 
Lieutenant Samuel Veale 
Lieutenant James Nicholson 
Lieutenant William Nicholson 

The events leading up to the Revolution were foreshadowed in Norfolk 
County as elsewhere in the Colony. In June of 1766, there occurred an 
enthusiastic celebration upon receipt of the news of the repeal of the Stamp 
Act. Like the slightly earlier celebration of similar import in the Borough of 
Norfolk, tliis occasion had both religious and secular aspects. Under the 
date-line "Great Bridge, Norfolk County, June 6," the Virginia Gazette 
told of the setting aside of Tuesday, June 3, as a day of "Thanksgiving 
and decent rejoicing." Colors were displayed at both church and banquet hall 
and cannon were fired to usher in the day. Services were held in Saint Bride's 
Church, with an appropriate sermon by the Reverend Mr. Pasteur, after which 
a banquet was provided and many toasts were drunk to the Royal Family, 
Mr. Pitt, liberty, patriotism, etc. At sunset the colors were struck with another 
discharge of cannon and the lighting of bonfires, and "a vary elegant ball 
and entertainment" in the evening concluded the celebration.*^ 

Tlie first important armed clash of the Revolution in Virginia took place 
in Norfolk County: this was the Battle of Great Bridge. Though relatively 
short in elapsed time, this encounter was to have a significant influence on 
the events which followed. It will be recalled that the Earl of Dunmore, 
Virginia's last royal Governor, was in conflict with the Assembly early in 
1775, and his growing anxiety because of the rapid deterioration of his 
position caused him — on 20 April of that year — to remove the store of 

* Promotion of him who qualified as Captain in 1748. 


powder in the public magazine in Williamsburg; this occurred, by strange 
coincidence, on the day after the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord in 
Massachusetts Bay, though news of the latter did not reach Virginia for 
over a week. The Governor was soon forced to take refuge with the British 
fleet then in York River, and by July, 1775, these ships were in Elizabeth 
River off Norfolk, where Dunmore planned to make his headquarters for the 
"reconquest" of the Colony; for most of the patriots and friends of Liberty 
had by then fled from the Borough, and the English and Scotch merchants 
who remained — either through sympathy and inclination or through fear 
of the guns of the British fleet — were with Dumnore to a man. 

Meanwhile the Convention — Virginia's Revolutionary government — was 
determined that Dunmore should not hold Norfolk, and had ordered Virginia 
troops to go there and drive him out: chief among these forces were the 
Culpeper Minute Men, and militia from Fauquier and Orange composing 
the Second Virginia Regiment under Colonel William Woodford. Among 
those from Fauquier were Major (later Colonel) Thomas Marshall and his 
son John — not yet a Captain — future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. As 
these troops moved on Norfolk they were joined by others from points 
nearer at hand: Parker's two companies from Isle of Wight, plus units from 
Elizabeth City, Princess Anne and Norfolk Counties and Carolina. The 
Norfolk County Militia was under Colonel John Wilson. Dunmore had 
at his disposal the l4th Regiment (Regulars) of Infantry and some local 
Tory units, the ""Queen's Own Loyal Virginians" (Queen's Rangers) under 
Colonel Jacob Ellegood of Princess Anne, the "Norfolk Militia of Loyalists" 
under Colonel (Doctor) Alexander Gordon and the "Ethiopean Corps" 
composed of fugitive slaves.""** 

The Governor and his military commanders made the blunder which 
no strategist should ever fall into: they overlooked their lines of com- 
munication with the outside world until too late. The route by which the 
Virginia troops had to approach Norfolk extended northeasterly from Suffolk 
skirting the north edge of Dismal Swamp at Shoulder's Hill, then turned 
southeast crossing Western Branch near present Bower's Hill, passed by 
Batchelor's Mill on Deep Creek, Tucker's Mill (on present Willis Creek), 
Corbury's Mill, Bell's Mill and passed Great Bridge Chapel to arrive at the 
village of Great Bridge. Here the road crossed the Southern Branch, circled 
the head of the Eastern Branch at Kempsville, crossed the forked head of 
Broad Creek at Moore's Bridges and entered Norfolk on Princess Anne Road 
and Church Street. Had the detachment of the Fourteenth Regiment — quar- 
tered in a warehouse at Andrew Sprowle's Shipyard at Gosport* since early 
November — been moved a scant half dozen miles to Batchelor's Mill where 
the road crossed Deep Creek, the line of approach could have been efi^ec- 

* Site of the present U. S. Naval Shipyard. 


tively cut and it is doubtful that the Virginia troops would have ever reached 
Norfolk. However, Dunmore turned his efforts toward fortifying the nortliern 
edge of Norfolk, and by the time he realized that Great Bridge was the key 
to the situation, Woodford's shirtmen** were well on their way.^" 

The Southern Branch at this spot flowed between swampy areas, and 
the bridge across it — which gave the place its name — had to be approached 
on either side by a causeway. The bridge itself connected two solid river 
banks which, because of the tidal swampy streams draining them, were vir- 
tually islands. At the south end of the bridge were the yards and warehouses 
from which were loaded the lumber, cooperage, shingles and other products 
for tlie Norfolk and Portsmouth markets. These were connected witli the 
village of Great Bridge (previously called Bridgetown) where the Great 
Bridge Chapel of Saint Bride's Parish was. 

The English belatedly decided to fortify the north causeway, and there 
they built a stockade fort and planted cannon to command the bridge and 
south causeway. When the Virginia troops arrived, they encamped at the 
Chapel — which they used as their headquarters — and began to throw up 
breastworks athwart the south causeway head and on the solid river bank 
on their west or left flank. It is estimated that the Virginia troops and 
militia here from various localities numbered about one thousand, while the 
English could not count quite that many, including both Infantry and 
Grenadier companies of the Fourteenth Regiment, Loyalist or Tory Militia 
and negroes, and sailors and marines from the Otter man-of-war. Though 
outnumbered, the English side had the advantage of a hard core of seasoned 
regulars plus artillery support; they had captured practically all the cannon 
in the neighborhood that might have served the patriots, who were therefore 
without such support.** 

Thus matters stood at the beginning of December, with both sides inter- 
mittently firing from behind stockade and breastwork, and neither bold 
enough to attempt the crossing of bridge or causeway in the face of the 
fire. The British were finally induced to do so by a stratagem. A well-coached 
negro servant of Major Thomas Marshall feigned desertion to the enemy 
and reported that the Patriot forces numbered only a few hundred. Early 
on the morning of Saturday, 9 December 1775, the British began the attack 
with a grenadier company of the Fourteenth Regiment under Captain Fordyee 
in the van, followed by infantry, Tories and Negroes. They carried planks 
to lay over tlie partially dismantled bridge, dragged two field pieces over 
with them, and advanced over the south causeway toward the American 
breastworks. The latter were lightly defended by a small detachment under 
Lieutenant Travis, who gave an order to his men reminiscent of Bunker 

** So were the Virginia Minute Men called, because of their buckskin hunting shirts; their 
experience in pursuit of wild fowl and beast had made them expert marksmen. 

(Courtesy William L. Clewetils Library) 

FROM CLINTON MS 267 (C. 1781) 


Hill: he told them to reserve their fire until the nearest attackers were within 
fifty yards. At such close range the British losses were heavy and included 
Fordyee and several other officers. Attempts by Captain Leslie, Commander 
of the Infantry, to rally them were of no avail; the Tories and Negroes 
had been of little assistance and the fire of Woodford's reinforcements from 
the breastworks and the flank made it impossible to renew the attack.^' 
How the British retreated to Norfolk and their ships, leaving the road open 
to the Virginians, is a story for a later chapter. The Battle of Great Bridge, 
which lasted a little over a half hour, was of great local significance: it was 
now impossible for Dunmore to hold southeast Virginia by establishing his 
base in the Borough of Norfolk — but it was equally certain that the doom 
and destruction of the Borough were thereby sealed. 

It is traditional that the Virginia troops suffered only one casualty, a 
hand wound suffered by Lieutenant Thomas Nash* of Gosport, of the 
Norfolk County Militia. Great Bridge also had its heroine in the person of 
Miss' Polly Miller, an energetic lady of the village who furnished refresh- 
ments to the warriors and ministered to their wounded, saving the lives 
of many. 

We give here another section of the 1781 map of Norfolk, Princess Anne 
and Nansemond Counties*" to show the location of the places mentioned in 
this account. It must be borne in mind that the North point is at the bottom 
and that the Eastern Branch should be almost at right angles with the 
Southern Branch. Here may be seen the four mills on the road to Great 
Bridge, the chapels at the latter place and at Deep Creek, the edge of the 
Dismal Swamp and the other swampy area still called Green Sea, the 
American redoubt at Great Bridge (the British stockade is omitted), and 
the forts at the west end of Main Street, Norfolk, and on Hospital Point, 
north of Portsmouth. Also visible are the inner defenses of Portsmouth and 
the breastworks north of Norfolk, begun by Dunmore. 

The Virginians under Colonel Woodford, plus the newly arrived North 
Carolinians under Colonel Robert Howe, lost no time in taking the now 
undefended road through Kemp's Landing to Norfolk. Dunmore and most 
of the Tories had taken refuge in his men-of-war and in other vessels. The 
story of the Borough's destruction in January, 1776, will be told in another 
place. Many of the homeless inhabitants of Norfolk found refuge in the 
County and elsewhere. After Major-General Charles Lee was put in command 
of the Southern Department, posts were established at various points where 
attack might be expected. The places so protected in Norfolk County were 
Great Bridge, the overland key to the northern part of this county and of 
Princess Anne, and at Ferry Point (formerly Powder Point, now Berkley) 

* He is called Captain in some accounts. He was fifth of that name being son of Thomas Nash 
of Saint Bride's, vestryman in 1761. 


at the junction of the Eastern and Southern Branches of Elizabeth River. 
Dunmore anchored Liverpool and Otter up the latter Branch above Deep 
Creek, and established a camp at Tucker's Mill; here he drilled his troops — 
regulars, Tories and ex-slaves. The Dunmore was anchored on the other side 
of the river near the ruins of a distillery which the patriots had destroyed. 
In this position, the British did not lack for supplies, for there were still 
many Tories in the area to visit their camp or row out to their ships in the 
river with supplies. The enemy sympathizers were so active in this way 
that it was finally decided, in April, 1776, to transplant the whole population 
of Norfolk and Princess Anne County from Great Bridge and Kempe's 
Landing to the ocean; thus Dunmore's sources of supply would be cut. This 
would have been a serious problem, for there were at least live thousand 
people in the area affected. Fortunately, Dunmore's sudden decision to 
move up Chesapeake Bay made it unnecessary to carry this order out. Finally 
in August Dunmore left these shores never to return; with him and his 
troops in the warships were a hundred miscellaneous vessels of all types, 
large and small, loaded with the Tories and their families and worldly goods 
and with the freed Negroes who had been following along since Great 

An incident of this period is of interest because it concerns a Norfolk 
County man who made a name for himself. In 1775, Lieutenant Richard 
Dale had joined the Virginia State Navy, and in March of 1776 he was 
captured and held for a while by the British. He was commissioned Lieutenant 
in the Continental Navy in 1779 and sailed under John Paul Jones as first 
lieutenant of the Bonhomme Richard. He was an original member of the 
Society of the Cincinnati because of his war service, and before his retirement 
in 1801, became Captain and third ranking officer of the United States Navy.*- 

The next few years were here filled chiefly with hostilities between 
Patriots and Tories. During this difficult time, many Norfolk County families 
were divided in their loyalties in a way that we have erroneously associated 
exclusively with the division between North and South over eighty years 
later. In May, 1779, a strong naval force under Sir George Collier entered 
the Elizabeth and captured or destroyed many vessels and large quantities of 
naval stores. Sir George did not remain long in these waters after having 
accomplished his purpose. In October 1780, another fleet arrived from 
New York with troops under General Leslie to reinforce Lord Cornwallis; 
they remained only a few days and set sail for Charleston. The story of 
Benedict Arnold's occupation belongs more to the chapter on Portsmouth 
Town: suffice it to say here that the traitor of West Point arrived in 
December, 1780, with the intention of occupying and securing southeast 
Virginia for the English. The turn of events in 1781, however, made it 
necessary for him to leave and join Cornwallis in Yorktown and defeat.^* 

Va 20 


The period between our two wars with Great Britain was one of great 
extremes. First, a tremendous boost was given to American seaborne trade 
on account of the state of war in Europe. Then, foreign commerce which had 
been so built up was practically destroyed by the Embargo Act of 1807. 
Meanwhile, interference with American vessels by the British — under the 
pretext of seeking deserters — led eventually to war in 1812.^'' One incident 
of that war, which occurred in Norfolk County, is worthy of comment here: 
we refer, of course, to the Battle of Craney Island. 

The Hampton Roads area was only slightly affected during the early 
months of this war, but things were different in 1813. In February of that 
year, a British squadron arrived in the Capes to seal the entrance to 
Chesapeake Bay, catching inside its blockade the pride of the U. S. Navy — 
the frigate Constellation. This vessel remained in the Elizabeth River through- 
out the war, and her officers, men, guns and small boats added greatly to the 
defense of the port. With the county and its component parts — including 
Gosport and the shipyard — threatened with invasion, hurried preparations 
were made to resist. Companies from Richmond, Henrico, Albemarle and 
Petersburg joined the local militia and volunteers, swelled by the sailors 
and marines of the Constellation, and all were placed under the command of 
General Robert B. Taylor of Norfolk. Breastworks were thrown up at 
Lambert's Point, Tanner's Creek and Craney Island. The latter point was 
especially heavily defended, since it is right at the mouth of Elizabeth River 
and could easily challenge attempts by a hostile force to reach Norfolk, 
Portsmouth and the shipyard.^^ 

The fortification of Craney Island had been ordered by General Wade 
Hampton, who preceded General Taylor as commander of this military dis- 
trict. A fort on the east side and redoubts on the west side of the island 
were armed with two 24-pounders, one 18 and four 6's, manned by personnel 
from the Constellation and two companies of light artillery, one of which 
was commanded by Captain Arthur Emmerson of Portsmouth.* An assort- 
ment of gunboats — schooners, sloops and feluccas, twenty-two in number — 
were spread in an arc across the channel from the Island to Lambert's 

A number of additional warships and transports joined the British fleet 
in Hampton Roads, and on 21 June 1813 the entire squadron moved up to 
anchor at the mouth of Nansemond River. There were four line-of-battle 
ships with their three-tiered batteries, seven frigates, three sloops-of-war, 
two transports and a number of lesser vessels. An attempt to flank the 
Island, by landing a force on the mainland to the west, was thrown back with 
heavy loss to the red-coats. Meanwhile, a frontal attack was in process of 

* This was the well-known unit — still in existence — which had just been organized four years 
earlier (1809) and is now known as Grimes Battery after the name of its commander in 1861. 


being mounted, and a double column of troop barges — led by the Admiral's 
fifty-two-foot barge, Centipede — approached the entrance to the river channel. 
The deadly fire of the land batteries also threw this force into confusion, 
with great loss of life and four or five of the barges. One of the casualties 
was the Centipede, a handsome craft of twenty-four oars with a shining brass 
three-pounder on its bow; a cannon shot passed through it, cutting off one 
man's legs.*' 

We have an almost first-hand story of this battle by an eye-witness. 
A little over a quarter century earlier — just after the Revolution — a Marine 
Hospital had been established at Ferry Point.* It stood on the southwest side 
of what is now Chestnut Street (then called Liberty, but not to be confused 
with the way Liberty Street now runs) and its grounds extended down to 
the water. In 1813, the matron-in-charge was a widow named Mrs. Mary 
Logan Morton, whose daughter, Jane, was married to a former merchant 
mariner (turned printer) named Richard Dallam Toy. Mrs. Toy later related 
many happenings to a grandson, and the latter wrote the following before 
he died in 1909: 

The hospital building had a porch from which a view was afforded down 
the Elizabeth River. My grandmother told me that in [the war of] 1812 she 
sat on this porch, and, with a glass, saw the attack made by the British upon 
the Americans at Craney Island, about five miles away [actually only four and 
a half}. She said that the attack was made in a very large row boat called the 
Centipede and that as this boat came near the shore of the island the Americans 
fired a chain shot which cut in two the man standing in the bow. She did not 
see what other execution was done, but the boat was pulled back and she saw 
the Americans rush out and take the bodies of men who had been shot and 
bring them on shore.** 

Personal observation from the spot, or reference to a map, will show that 
only the coal and cargo piers at Lambert's Point — the first of which were 
completed about 1886 — now obstruct a clear view of Craney Island from 
Ferry Point. 

The British were thus forced to give up their attempt to gain control 
of the Elizabeth River. They lost about two hundred men all told, while 
the defenders lost not a man. But they did not give up their blockade of 
Chesapeake Bay, and American merchantmen and privateers found it in- 
creasingly difficult to get out of the Capes — although this feat was performed 
with surprising regularity. However, a large share of Virginia's trade found 
an outlet, not through the Bay, but by way of North Carolina, and the 
produce of all southeast Virginia — even the flour and tobacco from Richmond 
and Petersburg — began to move over this route. Much of this merchandise 

* Now Berkley, a part of the City of Norfolk. 


was carried to the head of Eastern Branch, landed at Kempsville and carried 
overland ten miles to North Landing River, whence it went directly into 
North Carolina via Currituck Sound. It was not until June, 1814, that the 
Dismal Swamp Canal (begun in 1787, as will be related in another place) 
was put into full operation, and a twenty-ton vessel arrived in the Elizabeth 
with goods from Scotland Neck. This town is located up the Roanoke River 
about five miles from its banks, and the route down that river through 
Albemarle Sound, and Pasquotank and the Canal to Norfolk covered a 
hundred and fifty miles. Some years later, another canal — the Albemarle and 
Chesapeake — was to supplement the Dismal Swamp Canal. First surveyed 
in 1840, it was begun in 1850 and opened in 1859, connecting the Southern 
Branch at Great Bridge with North Landing River at the Princess Anne 
County Line. The latter river flows into Currituck Sound in North Carolina, 
and today the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal has become an important 
link in the Intracoastal Waterway for pleasure craft between New York 
and Florida.''" 

Mention was made above of the Marine Hospital at Ferry Point. This 
locality was called Powder Point — possibly because of a magazine safely out- 
side Norfolk Town — as early as 1728 when William Byrd passed through; 
Byrd said it was a careening ground for ships.'" It was called Washington 
Town or Point when the County Court House was located there as above 
noted (1790-1801), and may boast of being one of the first places named 
for the Father of Our Country even nine years before his death. One of its 
principal streets was also so named (though now called Walnut) and 
another was patriotically called Liberty Street (now Chestnut), the present 
street by that name being of later naming. It is traditional that this town 
of Washington was at one time proposed as the site for our national capital 
before the latter was definitely located on the Potomac. The spot became 
known as Ferry Point shortly after 1800 because of the ferry from the foot 
of Liberty (Chestnut) Street to the county dock in Norfolk. The name of 
Herbertsville was also connected with it for a while. After the War for 
Southern Independence, it was developed by the late Lycurgus Berkley into 
an incorporated town bearing his surname, and in 1906 was annexed to the 
City of Norfolk. 

The Marine Hospital was established by Act of Assembly on 20 December 
1787 as an Institution for aged and disabled seamen.^^ As previously noted 
it was presided over by Mrs. Mary Logan Morton, who was succeeded at 
her death in 1814 by her daughter, Mrs. Jane Morton Toy. Her husband, 
R. D. Toy died the same year, and she remained as matron-in-charge until 
1834 when she moved to Nashville. Shortly thereafter the hospital came 
under the supervision of Dr. E. O. Balfour, who (it is said) greatly improved 
the grounds and principal buildings; he was succeeded in 1849 by Dr. 


Schoolfield of Portsmouth.®^ The old building was still standing in 1902, 
when it was occupied by the Ryland Institute, a school for girls; a photograph 
at that time shows a substantial two-story structure with large windows and 
a porch extending up to the eaves and across a part of the facade. Thomas 
Newton* of Norfolk, a member of the Hospital's board of directors in 1800, 
wrote the following to President Thomas Jefferson on 30 September 1801: 

... I hope something will be done to put the Marine Hospital in repair next 
Congress. It is really a valuable building but getting much out of repairs, a 
small tax on sailors, would support it handsomely, and leave for admittance 
of foreign seamen, on paying customary boon wages would greatly assist in 
maintaining it; the Court House and Prison of Norfolk County, is adjoining 
the hospital lotts except a stretch which will be sold, these would make a very 
great addition & will sell very low, not at half the Cost of building [on} them 
& in Cases of Contagious sickness among seamen, they could be kept in sepa- 
rate houses & be a means of saving many lives. ^* 

On 3 May 1807, Newton again wrote President Jefferson the following 
words on the same subject: 

... I am sorry to inform you that we had the misfortune of losing the East 
wing of the Hospital for sick seamen this morning, it is supposed it took lire 
from a spark out of the chimney, & the wind blowing fresh from the N.W., 
the roof was instantly in flames, but by great exertions the main building 
(which was joined to it by a low covered way, about ten feet a part) was saved 
with very little damage & the West wing remains intire, but neither the main 
building or wing are finished. They have but one floor & not lathed or plas- 
tered. Most of the furniture & many materials are saved, such as the sashes, 
with glass, doors & C which answer to put the West wing in order, for the 
reception of the sick & repairing the main building. I suppose from a rough 
estimate, it would cost 2000$ or probably more, to put the damaged part in 
repair & finish the West wing. It is an elegant building and very fine brick 
work well worth keeping in order; I have wrote the Secty of the Treasury on 
this subject, requesting instructions on tliis unfortunate event. I beg leave to 
observe, that very few or none of the seamen of Virginia are ever put into 
the Hospital, they are accommodated by their friends & relations. Most of 
those who are admitted to the Hospital are from the Northern States who, not 
being used to our climate fall sick . . .^* 

Hostile action in this neighborhood between Union and Confederate 
forces during the War of 1861-65 were confined to the first year of that 
conflict, since this area was abandoned by the Confederates as untenable 
without sufficient naval support. Almost immediately after news of the firing 
on Fort Sumter in early April of 1861, the Union forces in the Gosport Navy 

* Second by this name; Burgess, Colonel of Militia, judge, mayor, alderman, delegate, state 


Yard destroyed both shore installations and ships at that place; this is a 
story which belongs to the chapter on Portsmouth. Within a month, General 
William B. Taliaferro, district commander, began to fortify the approaches 
to Norfolk, Portsmouth and Gosport, because of the threat of invasion from 
the strong Federal army and naval forces at Old Point. As before, the key 
defense posts were at Seawell's Point, Craney Island, Fort Norfolk and 
Fort Nelson (Hospital Point) . The battery at Seawell's Point included three 
42-pounder carronades, twenty 32-pounders and six 9-inch rifles. On 19 and 
20 May 1861, an artillery duel was engaged between this battery and two 
Federal naval vessels (^Moiiticello and an armed tug) , in which the latter 
were forced to retire. This was the first engagement of the War in Virginia, 
and the Seawell's Point defenses remained active until abandoned when 
evacuation occurred. °'' 

Another momentous event of this time had its scene in these waters: we 
refer to the first battle of ironclads i^Virg'ni'hi-Merriinac and Mo>iitoy), 
\\'hich will be related in the chapter on Portsmouth. 

The decision to evacute this area was reached and effected early in 
May, 1862, and on the tenth of that month a Union force of 6000 men 
under Major General John E. Wool* landed at Ocean View. This force 
was accompanied by a group of distinguished sight-seers in the persons of 
President Lincoln and two of his cabinet (Secretaries Stanton and Chase) ; 
the V.I.P.'s did not venture ashore but watched from the safety of a ship in 
Hampton Roads. Wool found the bridge over Tanner's Creek (site of 
present Granby Street bridge) had been destroyed, and had to circle around 
and enter Norfolk from the east.™ The story of the Union occupation will 
be told in another place. The map here given was made about 1863 for 
Brigadier General Viele, military governor of the district, and shows a part 
of Norfolk County north of Elizabeth River.''" Clearly visible are the redoubt 
and entrenchments at Seawell's Point; batteries on Tanner's Creek, Lambert's 
Point and Pinner's Point, Fort Norfolk and Hospital Point; and the be- 
ginning of the entrenchment athwart Princess Anne Road from the head 
of Tanner's Creek to Moore's Bridges at the head of Broad Creek. At the 
extreme upper right hand corner, the letter "O" marks the beginning of the 
legend "Ocean View;" here began Wool's march into Norfolk, down the 
Old Ocean View Road to its junction with Seawell's Point Road,* and west 
past the house of "J. Guy" (still called Guy's Corner in this writer's child- 
hood, now the intersection of Tidewater Drive and Little Creek Road), to 
the junction with Tanner's Creek Road (now Ward's Corner). When it was 
found that the bridge south of "H. Talbot" was out, the Federal forces had 

His name is preserved in the unfinished Fort Wool at Rip-Raps, the island off Old Point. 
Now disguised under the name of Little Creek Road. 




to retrace their steps, take Seawell's Point Road to Fox Hail and enter 
Norfolk over Princess Anne Road. 

Even though Norfolk County itself was early out of the picture as far 
as armed engagements were concerned, its men and units made their mark 
on many battle fronts. The Dismal Swamp Rangers (Co. A, 3rd Va. Reg.) 
and the Portsmouth Rifles (Co. G, 9th Va. Reg.) took part in Pickett's charge 
at Gettysburg; the former was also at Cold Harbor. The Saint Bride's Artillery 
(Co. I, 38th Va. Reg.) and the Norfolk County Patriots (Co. F, 4lst Va. 
Reg.) were at Seven Pines; the Jackson Grays (Co. A, 6lst Va. Reg.) were 
at "the Crater." These are just a few of the instances of their participation.** 
The history of the two oldest and most famous units — Portsmouth Grimes 
Battery (1809) and Norfolk Light Artillery Blues (1828)— will be told in 
another place. 

Two well-known seaside resorts were originally in Norfolk County, 
though now in Norfolk City limits. We refer, of course, to Ocean View 
and Willoughby Beach. Ocean View was first developed in 1854, and in 
January of the following year the Ocean View Company issued a glowing 
description of the spot as a country seat, with cool breezes, view of the 
ocean, surf-bathing, view of Cape Henry, Old Point, the Rip-Raps, and 
"Naval and Merchant ships at all times trailing across its noble offing, as 
well as piscatory gentlemen dealing seductive offerings from their boats to 
the sprightly denizens of the deep . . ."!!! It was also announced in that 
January of 1855 that forty-two gentlemen had purchased lots there, including 
Dr. Thomas D. Warren of Edenton, Edward S. Pegram of Baltimore, Dr. 
George W. Peete of Portsmouth, and the rest (39) of Norfolk, among 
whom were: 

Cincinnatus W. Newton Captain Francis W. Seabury 

Colonel Myer Myers Dr. William Selden 

John B. Whitehead Tazewell Taylor 

Alex Bell Walter H. Taylor 

William S. Camp Dr. Thomas D. Toy 

Richard Dickson Dr. Richard B. Tunstall 

Finlay F. Ferguson Dr. Robert B. TunstalP" 

The war put a stop to any further development at that time, and by 1865 — 
as will be seen in the military map above — only a handful of houses had 
been built and were grouped in the vicinity of the present triangle at the 
north terminus of Granby Street. Shortly thereafter it began to grow in 
popularity, and by 1880 Northerners had begun to visit it. Soon a railroad, 
later electrified, was built, as well as a hotel, pavilions and other cottages, 
and Ocean View became a popular spot for all sorts of recreations: surf- 
bathing, fishing, riding, hunting, etc.*" Ocean View became part of the 
City of Norfolk by annexation in 1923. 


Willoughby Beach, while not so early developed as a resort, has a much 
longer history. As noted in the previous chapter, the first Thomas Willoughby 
owned land here before 1626 and had built his "manor house" by 1635. 
As pointed out elsewhere, it was probably situated on a point called 
Willoughby's Point,* and his lands reached out in both directions, certainly 
as far as Mason's Creek to the west and probably almost to Little Creek on 
the east. This point was not identical with what we now know as Willoughby 
Beach or Spit, the latter being of later formation. We can discount the 
tradition that one of the Willoughbys woke up one morning after a bad 
storm to see the sand spit suddenly there. The late Clair Crawford, a 
gentleman with an inexhaustible store of knowledge concerning the County, 
believed the spit was formed in 1749. It is probable that shoals had been 
started before this by the ebb and flow of the waters of the Bay, and 
Crawford must have been thinking of the severe storm of hurricane pro- 
portions which is known to have occurred in 1749,*^ and which undoubtedly 
helped to bring these shoals above the surface. Colonel John Willoughby, 
County Lieutenant who died in 1776, left to his son John his "manor 
plantation and 217 acres known as Sandy Point." This second John Wil- 
loughby was County Sheriff and died in 1791; he bequeathed to his son 
John L. Willoughby "the point called Willoughby's Point and 217 acres 
taken up by my father." This certainly distinguishes Sandy Point from 
Willoughby's, and implies a new grant for the former during the lifetime 
of Colonel Willoughby, which fits in with the theory of new formation at 
mid-eighteenth century. The Willoughbys fell into difficulties because of 
the loyalist leanings of some — though not all — of its members, and at least 
part of the property seems to have passed out of their hands soon after the 
Revolution.*^ In 1826 it was advertised for sale by "Madam Garden 
Maganos" as "a valuable plantation and fishery on Willoughby's Point 
containing 360 acres;" this has been erroneously identified with the Spit, 
which it is not. This tract would now approximately cover that area 
bounded by Chesapeake Bay, Third View Street, the U.S. Naval Air Station, 
plus the developments known as Pamlico, Lennox and Pinewell. It was 
described as being half under cultivation and half covered with pine and 
oak timber, with half a mile of sandy beach for seine hauling, a dwelling 
house, two kitchens, stable, carriage house, barn, garden, well, agricultural 
implements, fishing boats and twenty fathoms of seine.*^ The name of the 
owner, Maganos, is intriguing: we judge from a county marriage record of 
11 May 1799 between Joseph and Rosa Josephina Magagnos (cousins.'') that 
they were Italian; there was also a Captain Julian Magagnos of the 54th 
Virginia Militia in 1812, but we cannot at this time identify any of these 

* Just north of the present Ocean View Elementary School. 


with the owner of Willoughby's Point. It will be noted from the military 
map of 1863 (given earlier) that this property was then in possession of 
■W. Taylor." A chart of 1841 labelled the spit as "Willoughby's Sand 

The area remained undeveloped until the turn of the century. One early 
resident, Colonel William Couper, said his father built a house near 71/2 stop 
in 1898, and identified other playmates of his shortly thereafter as Grif 
and Stearns Dodson, Ralph and Linton Jones, and Jim Culpepper.*'^ The big 
growth came in 1907 with the Jamestown Exposition and most of the 
original cottages on the spit that are still standing date from that time. The 
Hampton Roads Yacht Club was established at the western end of the 
beach, and was mucli enjoyed not only by the grownups but also by the 
"small fry." Like Ocean View, Willoughby became part of Norfolk City by 
annexation in 1923. 

Norfolk County, of course, followed the pattern of the other Virginia 
counties in local government after the Revolution. It will be recalled that 
the early County Courts were composed of a variable number of Justices or 
Commissioners appointed by the Governor — on the average, eight — who 
fulfilled all the functions of local government: executive, legislative and 
judicial. At that time, the County was divided into precincts for enforcement 
and other purposes, and after 1761 into three parishes for ecclesiastical 
purposes. We may imagine that these pre-Revolutionary precincts were called 
Tanner's Creek, Western Branch, Southern Branch or Deep Creek, Eastern 
Branch or Great Bridge, and probably others. After the war a new system 
of local government gradually developed a more democratic administration 
and a more efficient system of justice. The old precincts were replaced by 
magisterial districts, and the executive and legislative functions of the Justices 
were assumed by a Board of Supervisors elected one from each district, one 
of whom was chosen Chairman. They were, in effect, the counterpart of 
the Mayor and Council in the municipalities. The divisions or districts of 
Norfolk County under this system came to be known as Tanner's Creek, 
Western Branch, Deep Creek, Pleasant Grove, Washington, Cradock and 
Butt's Road. The judicial functions of the Justices were placed under a 
Circuit Court presided over by a Judge who, as the name of his court in- 
dicated, meted out justice in a "circuit" which might include courts in as 
many as three counties. 

Norfolk County today is an important area aside from the municipalities 
which it contains, though it is constantly fighting the battle of loss of 
territor}' to the latter through annexation. It has an excellent public school 
system including five high schools; there are a dozen classes of manufacture 
carried on here (food products, textiles, clothing, lumber, furniture, printing, 
chemicals, glass, transportation equipment, etc.); its farm products amounted 


to nearly five million dollars in 1949; it has large commercial forest re- 
sources; its mineral resources are confined chiefly to sand, gravel, brick clay 
and marl; it has important ground and surface water resources — part of the 
Great Dismal Swamp, with Lake Drummond at its center, occupies vast areas 
in the west and south portions of the County."" 

As indicated above, the chief problem here — as in any county adjacent 
to a city — is the loss of territory by annexation. By the time Norfolk was 
chartered as a city in 1845, it had not grown appreciably from its borough 
limits of 1736. However, beginning in 1887 it began to take large bites 
out of Tanner's Creek District until 1955 when the latter completely dis- 
appeared. As these lines are written, preparations are being made to take 
over a large part of Kempsville District in adjoining Princess Anne to the 
east. Washington District has similarly suffered by loss of Berkley (1906) 
and Campostella (1923) to Norfolk, and by the establishment of South 
Norfolk in 1919. Likewise, Portsmouth has reached out to the Western 
Branch in one direction and the U. S. Naval Shipyard in another, and now 
has an annexation suit pending for more adjoining territory. All of these 
matters will be noted in more detail in the various chapters on these 

In closing this chapter on Norfolk County, we shall give brief sketches 
of some of the prominent families who contributed to its history, some of 
which have already entered into the accounts of Lower Norfolk County 
before 1691 in the preceding chapter. As before noted, the name of Wil- 
loughby was one of the most ancient and prominent of this section. The 
third Thomas Willoughby died in 1712 leaving a son, Thomas IV, and four 
daughters: Mary wife of John Porter, Elizabeth, Sarah and Mary. Sarah's 
^\■ill was proved in 1740, and reveals the names of her brother's six sons 
(John, Thomas V, Lemuel, Samuel, Alderton, William), and the fact that 
one of her sisters married the Reverend Moses Robertson, Elizabeth River 
Parish minister (1729-1742). Thomas Willoughby [IV], who died in 1753, 
was married to Ann the daughter of Thomas Mason, thus uniting the two 
most prominent families of the Bay Shore, whose names are still preserved 
in Willoughby Spit and Mason's Creek. Colonel John Willoughby, son of 
Thomas IV, has been mentioned before; he was married in 1756 to Sarah 
Abyvon, daughter of a mayor of Norfolk Borough, by whom he had a son 
John [II] and died in 1776. In view of his official capacity as County 
Lieutenant, it is not unnatural that Colonel John "took the oath" with 
Dunmore in 1775; some say both he and his son did this under duress, 
while others relate that they continued in their loyalist leanings even after 
Dunmore's departure. Some doubt is cast on these accounts by the fact that 
the younger John was County Sheriff in 1784, and his two sons (John L. 
and Thomas) were still living here after 1800. Other descendants of Thomas 


Willoughby [IV} lived in the Borough of Norfolk, as will be related in 
a subsequent chapter."' 

There was another branch of this family which cannot be precisely 
identified. Thomas Willoughby of the Southern Branch of Elizabeth River 
left a will proved 16 March 1710/11, naming three sons (Thomas, John, 
William) and six daughters.**^ It will be noted he was a contemporary 
of the third Thomas Willoughby of the Bay Shore, whose will was proved 
16 May 1712. Thus, Thomas Willoughby of Southern Branch may have 
been son of a brother of the second Thomas Willoughby (d. 1672) of 
whom we have no knowledge, but this is pure surmise. 

Equal to the Willoughbys in antiquity and prominence were their "next- 
door neighbors," the Masons. As brought out in the preceding chapter, Colonel 
Lemuel Mason (son of Francis) held every public office in the County, 
probably including that of County Lieutenant; his wife was Anne Seawell* 
and their wills are on record — proved respectively in 1702 and 1705/6. Their 
heirs were Thomas, Lemuel, George, Frances (Newton-Sayer), Alice (Porten- 
Boush), Mary (Cocke), and Dinah (Thorowgood). Thomas Mason died in 
1711 leaving a son Lemuel and three daughters, one of whom (Ann) married 
Thomas Willoughby [IV] as above noted. George Mason died the same 
year as his brother (1711), leaving two sons, Thomas and George (Captain 
of Militia in 1716) and two daughters. The latter Thomas Mason (son 
of George I) died in 1731, leaving sons George, William, Lemuel, Henry 
and three daughters. An interesting item is in the will of the elder Thomas 
Mason (d. 1711): "fifty pounds in good Spannish money to be raised and 
paid out of my estate for the keeping and education of my son Lemuel 
Mason at the Gramer Scoole at Williams Brough." This gives proof of 
the pronunciation of the name of the capital city of Williamsburgh in 
accordance with its original spelling.®^ 

Colonel Lemuel Mason's sister Elizabeth married the Huguenot James 
Thelaball. The latter died in 1693, leaving two surviving sons: Francis 
Thelaball (d. 1704) who was father of James, Dyer, Francis (II), Lemuel 
and Sarah; and James Thelaball (II, d. 1711) who was father of Francis, 
Lemuel, Dinah, Elizabeth and Ann. The elder Thelaball also had three 
daughters, two of whom married Langleys, as below noted, and the third 
was Mary Chichester. Her husband William Chichester died in 1698, and 
they had two sons, William and James. The will of James Thelaball the 
elder (proved in September, 1693) has an interesting bequest: "to my 
loving cozen William Porten* all my ffrench books."'" 

WiUiam [11] and Thomas Langley — sons of the first William (d. 1676) 
— married respectively Margaret and Elizabeth, the other two daughters of 

* Designated in her will as "Anne Mason, Gentlewoman." 

* Husband of his niece, Alice Mason. 


James Thelaball. Thomas Langley died in 1717 leaving four sons, two of 
whom had descendants: 1) Captain Lemuel Langley (d. 1748) who was 
father of Thomas (of Princess Anne), Samuel (of Norfolk Borough, joiner 
and cabinet maker), Willis (a shipwright), Nathaniel, Frances and Mary; 
2) Thomas Langley (d. 1747) who was father of Thomas (d. 1750), 
Lemuel, John, George, Mary (Milner) and Abigail (Hargrove). The family 
of William and Margaret Langley was somewhat more numerous, consisting 
of six sons and three daughters. In William Langley's will (proved in 1718), 
his sixth and "most dutiful" son Jeremiah was named one of the executors; 
he had no children. The eldest son, William Langley the third, had three 
sons: Joseph (d. 1750), Jonathan (shoemaker of Norfolk Borough), and 
William. The second son of William Langley [II] was Nathan (d. 1743), 
who had four sons and two daughters; James Langley (d. 1797), son of 
Nathan, had a son William Langley "Senior" (1757-1807), and the latter 
had a son, William Langley "Junior" (d. 1825). William Langley, Jr., was 
married in 1797 to Elizabeth Denby and they had Charles, Elizabeth Margaret, 
and Louisa Ann. Charles Langley was married to Agnes Peed; he died 
without issue in 1826.^^ 

We have gone into detail with these last few Langley generations, be- 
cause of the interesting old Langley burial plot on Mason's Creek. Its site is 
now within the bounds of Forest Lawn Cemetery, and it was formerly well 
tended, surrounded by a hedge and containing ornamental trees and shrubs. 
In recent years hedge and trees have disappeared, and the stones — consider- 
ably the worse for wear — are laid level, flat on the ground. The site is a 
few yards east of Granby Street and a slightly greater distance south of 
Mason's Creek; it marks not only the residence of this particular branch 
but certainly the general neighborhood in which the family lived. Here are 
buried Elizabeth, wife of William Langley, Jr. (died 17 May 1803, aged 
22 years), Louisa, daughter of William and Elizabeth Langley (died 20 No- 
vember 1803, aged eight months), Charles Langley (died 20 December 1825, 
aged 27 years), Agnes [Peed] wife of Charles (died 20 July 1852, aged 
54 years), and two infant children of Charles and Agnes, Elizabeth (died 
in 1821, aged 11 months) and George (died in 1825, aged 10 months). 
In addition there are five graves whose connection with the Langley's is 
not apparent.* It will be recalled that there are two old graves in the former 
Denby Methodist Churchyard: they are Susan Peed (died 3 February 1826) 
and Thomas Peed (died 6 October 1826, aged 33 years) ; it is not known 
what relationship they bore to each other or to Agnes Peed Langley. It will 
be noted on the map of 1863 that the name "R. Peed" occurs quite near the 
churchyard and Langley plot. 

* These inscriptions were carefully copied by the writer twenty-five years age, when they were 
in better condition and much more legible. 


The Denby family also resided in the Mason's Creek neighborhood, 
though we do not have a complete story of them at this writing. Edward 
Denby was here possibly before 1700; he died in 1718, leaving four sons 
(Edward, Charles, John, William) and four daughters. John Denby was a 
witness to the will of William Langley (d. 1718). William Denby left a 
will — proved in 1753 — showing five sons (Artliur, Dyer, William, Matthias, 
Samuel) and four daughters.'" Jonathan Langley, the shoemaker of Norfolk, 
is said to have married the daughter of a later Charles Denby; William 
Langley, Jr., married a Denby also, (probably daughter of another Charles) 
as we have seen; one of the unidentified graves in the Langley plot was 
that of still another Charles Denby who died in 1796 at the age of twelve 
years. We refer again to the 1863 map which shows the residences of 
"A. Denby" and "C. Denby" in this locality. 

Only one branch of the numerous Wishard or Wishart clan seems to 
have resided in Norfolk County, and not for long. It will be recalled that 
the elder James Wishard made his first purchase of land in 1665, 150 acres 
at Seawell's Point. At his death (1680), this tract was the inheritance of 
his second son John. This John Wishard died in 1707/8, and four years 
later (12 September 1712) we find his widow remarried to a Simmons; at 
the same time tlieir son Thomas Wishard conveyed the Seawell's Point tract 
to Lewis Conner, apparently receiving in return a tract on the north side 
of Tanner's Creek. After this, nothing has been found concerning this branch. 
Another Wishard connection with Norfolk County might be mentioned in 
passing: Joyce, one of the second William Langley's daughters, was first 
married to her first cousin, Lemuel Thelaball (son of Francis), and as his 
widow she was married in 1732 to her more distant cousin John Wishard, 
son of John Wishard (d. 1739), Justice and Sheriff of Princess Anne 

Lewis Conner, above-mentioned, was the second of that name. The elder 
Lewis Conner was here in the seventeenth century. He died in 1697/8 
leaving a wife Elizabeth and seven children, of which four were sons; the 
record book is so mutilated tliat only tsvo sons' names can be identified, 
Lewis (the eldest) and Kader. Kader Conner made his will in 1721 
(probate illegible), naming his wife Abigail and brother-in-law William 
Craford.* The latter will be recognized as founder of Portsmouth, Colonel 
and County Lieutenant, Vestryman. The will of Lewis Conner the younger 
was proved in 1753 and named his wife Margaret, daughter Mary, and five 
sons (Joseph, Lewis III, Charles, Samuel, Lawson) ; he bequeathed to each son 
a silver-hilted sword, and divided among them land at the "Cross Roads 
in Tanners Creek, at Cape Henry and Pungo in Princess Anne, and in 

* Pronounced Crawford, and now so spelled. 


North Carolina." A word on Craford background: William Craford, Gentle- 
man, left a will proved on 16 March 1699/1700, naming his wife Margaret 
and two grandchildren, William and Abigail Craford (see above) ; he di- 
rected the return of his indentured servant Anthony to Plymouth and named 
James Cocke of the latter city as executor, his "trusty friends" Thomas 
Hodges and Samuel Boush being overseers for the will.'* 

Continuing the story of the Nashes from the preceding chapter, it is 
to be noted that Thomas Nash "Senr." [11] was one of the executors for 
William Etheridge (d. 1716), and the latter named a daughter Ann Nash 
and a granddaughter Dorcas Nash; this establishes the marriage between 
Thomas Nash and Ann Etheridge. Of their four daughters and three sons, 
we shall mention only two: William Nash (d. 1751), part owner of a 
gallery in the Parish Church, and Thomas Nash III (d. 1783) traditionally 
married to Dinah, daughter of her mother's brother Thomas Etheridge. It 
is sometimes difficult to distinguish individuals among so many of the same 
name, but it seems probable that the second Thomas Nash was clerk of the 
Southern Branch Chapel in 1728, while his son Thomas III was its clerk 
in 1749.* Thomas Nash IV (d. 1794) was the eldest of four sons and six 
daughters; he was married in 1754 to Mary Portlock, qualified as Lieutenant 
of Militia in 1760, was vestryman of Saint Bride's Parish in 1761, was 
Lieutenant-Colonel of Norfolk County Militia in 1777, and one of the 
commissioners for building a new County Court House and Jail at Washington 
Point (1790-92). Thomas Nash (V) of Gosport was he who was wounded 
at Great Bridge (1775), and was father and grandfather respectively of 
Dr. Thomas Nash (VI) and Dr. Herbert M. Nash, both of Norfolk. Caleb 
Nash was a younger brother of Thomas (V) ; he died in 1827 leaving a son 
Richard Nash (1803-1855) who was father of seven sons, including Richard 
E. Nash, John L. Nash and C. A. Nash, mentioned elsewhere in these 

The story of the Tucker family belongs more to the Town and Borough 
of Norfolk but it does have a specific County connection, too. Here again it 
is difficult to distinguish individuals of the same name. The first Robert 
Tucker of Norfolk died in 1722; his son Robert — Colonel Robert Tucker — 
was vestryman of the undivided parish in 1750 and of the reduced Elizabeth 
River Parish in 1761. The latter's son Robert Tucker "Jr." [Ill] was vestry- 
man in 1759 and after 1761 so served in Saint Bride's. When Colonel 
George Washington became interested in the Dismal Swamp in 1763, one 
of his associates in the venture was Robert Tucker; he it was who probably 
secured the services of Gershom Nimmo, Surveyor of Norfolk County, 
when Washington wished a survey made of the land he wanted to acquire.'" 

* It was then called Great Bridge Chapel. 


We have seen where Tucker's Mill was just at the edge of Dismal Swamp;* 
Washington described it in his diary as being eight miles from Great Bridge. 

The brothers John and Matthew Godfrey were both residents of Norfolk 
Town. Each owned land in the County however, and had many county 
connections. Matthew Godfrey, whose will was proved in 1717, apparently 
had only one direct heir, a daughter, who was married to James Wilson, Jr. 
The elder James Wilson (d. 1712) was Colonel of Militia and a Justice 
(1691); his will shows a large family of seven sons (two of whom died 
before him) and three daughters. Of the sons, Willis Wilson was Captain 
of Militia in 1734 and vestryman in 1735 — his son Willis, Jr., was vestryman 
in 1749; Lemuel Wilson was Clerk of the County Court in 1699, and was 
succeeded by his brother Solomon, in 1718; James Wilson, Jr., was a feoffee 
of the town land until his death in 1716.'^ Captain Willis Wilson of a later 
generation — he died in 1798 — was an officer of the Virginia State Navy and 
commanded the galley Caswell in 1776. He had in his crew two other 
Norfolk County boys: Midshipman William Langley (1757-1807), mentioned 
above, and Seaman William Wallace, whose family lived in the southern part of 
the county where Wallaceton is, on the Dismal Swamp Canal.'* One of the 
daughters of James Wilson, Sr., was Aphia Wilson who was married in 1706 
to Lieutenant Colonel George Newton of Norfolk Town and Borough.'* 

Near the end of the seventeenth century, the name of Talbot appeared on 
the scene; the names of Isaac and Jacob Talbot appear as witnesses to the 
will of John Fulcher who died in 1712. Jacob Talbot's will was proved in 
1732 (when he died) and showed he had a single son William, but also 
gave the names of all his (Jacob's) brother John's children — eight sons 
and a daughter. We shall mention only two of these sons: Kader Talbot 
died unmarried in 1752, and his will is interesting because it mentions "a 
schooner now in the stocks," indicating shipbuilding activities; Thomas 
Talbot (d. 1777), Captain of Militia in 1760, was head of the family which 
gained prominence in Norfolk Borough.*** Here we are chiefly interested 
in their county holdings. The 1863 map will show the legend 'H. Talbot" 
in two places, indicating the Talbots owned large tracts on the west side 
of present Granby Street north of the Bridge; as a matter of fact they also 
owned much on the east side, too. The southernmost of the two Talbot 
houses shown is the beautiful Talbot Hall, still standing in that spot. 
Solomon Butt Talbot (son of Thomas) provided in his will (c. 1800) for 
the building of a summer home for his son Thomas Talbot. Upon the hitter's 
death in 1838, the property descended to his son William Henry Talbot 
(the legend "H. Talbot" was therefore in error), who left it in 1884 to 
his son, another Thomas Talbot. The latter died in 1932 and it passed to 

See 1781 map given earlier. 


his brother, Minton Wright Talbot, last of the male line. After Mr. Minton 
Talbot's death, the house and adjacent land were donated by his daughter 
to the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. There are two 
features about this beautiful house worthy of note. The first is its location: 
on a point in front of the house with an unobstructed view to the west 
toward the mouth of Tanner's Creek, there are two rows of linden trees 
planted so that they point one toward the place of the setting sun on 
22 December and the other towards its direction on 21 June. Thus every 
beautiful sunset the year round is framed between these twin rows. The 
other unusual feature is the seal of the United States over the mantel with 
seventeen stars, dated the building's completion in 1802 to 1803. The seal 
is said to be responsible for special consideration when the Union forces 
came this way in 1862. Nearby there was a Confederate encampment which 
was abandoned when Norfolk was evacuated.*' 

Another large landowner in the northern part of the County was Captain 
Samuel Watts, a prominent citizen of Portsmouth and son of Colonel Dempsey 
Watts.*" Captain Watts owned the land on both sides of present Granby 
Street from Ward's corner to Mason's Creek including, of course, much of 
Forest Lawn Cemetery; the location of the land and the house on it are 
clearly shown on the 1863 map by the legend "S. Watts." At his death in 
1878, this land passed to his daughter Margaret Leigh Watts — better known 
as "Miss Maggie." This writer heard Miss Maggie Watts remark on one 
occasion that her father's country seat on Mason's Creek was originally 
called "Pilgrim's Rest" and that it was unfortunate such a beautiful and 
appropriate name for a cemetery was discarded when the land was put to 
that use in 1906. 

On the south side of Tanner's Creek, just across from the Talbot prop- 
erty, was the country place called "Lebanon." The house here — no longer 
standing — was built by Captain John Johnston in 1793 and was home for 
him and his wife, the former Mary Bayard Wooten. They had two daughters 
both of whom successively married Captain Ethan Allen of Fort Ticonderoga 
fame. The private road or lane leading to the house from the country 
road was planted by Captain Allen with two rows of magnolia trees, which 
he is said to have imported from Mississippi. These ancient trees — now 
well past the century mark — are still standing and the street they line is 
now known as Magnolia Avenue. Captain Allen had a daughter Mary who 
married Andrew Weir* and their son Allen Weir (d. 1933) was the last 
member of the family to own the place. In 1925 the graves in the old family 
burial plot were removed to Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk.** The Weir 
property — like Talbot's and Watts' — is now within the Norfolk City limits. 

* Pronounced "Ware." 
Va. 21 


In preparing this sketch of Norfolk County, it has been next to impossible 
to draw firm lines in either time or space. The reader is therefore referred 
for further details to the chapters on New Norfolk County and Lower 
Norfolk County, as well as to the sections on Town, Borough and City of 
Norfolk, and the Towns and Cities of Portsmouth and South Norfolk. 

Notes on Chapthr XI 

N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 

1. See Chapter XX. 

2. 1H250. 

3. See Chapter X, note 39. 

4. 3H95-6. 

5. 3H128. 

6. Squires in Norfolk Ledger-Disputch. 22 June 1939. 

7. Norfolk County Records. Book 5. 

8. 3H219, 392, 470. 

9. 3H404; for further details, see Chapter XII. 

10. For details on Court House and School, see Chapter XII. 

11. See Chapter XIII. 

12. 57V409-10. 

13. Ihid., pp. 411-12. 

14. Loc. cit. 

15. For details, see Chapters X and XII. 

16. See Chapter XIII. 

17. 2lW(2)152-4. 

18. 2W( 1)179-80; Norfolk County Records. Book 9, p. 540. 

19. See Chapters XII and XIII. 

20. Norfolk County Records, Book 12, p. 33. 

21. Now among the archives of Saint Paul's Church, Norfolk. 

22. Squires in Norfolk Ledger-Disp.itch, 22 June 1937. 

23. Wingo in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 4 May 1952. 

24. 21W(2) 153-6. 

25. Loc. cit.: see also Wingo in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 4 May 1952. 

26. For details, see Chapters XII, XIV and XVII. 

27. E. L. Goodwin, Colonial Church, passim: Wingo in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 9 December 1956; 
Brydon, "Episcopal Clergy 1785-1814," in 19W(2)397-434 (passim); Barrett in aW(2)107 
and 9W(2)41-2, 137. 

28. Squires in Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch. 22 June 1939. 

29. The place, date and publisher of this work are not known, but the preface is dated 1791. 

30. Burkitt and Read, Kehukee Association. 

31. Wingo in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 9 December 1956 and 4 May 1952. 

32. Adamson, Court Street Baptist Church, p. 9- 

33. Reuben Jones, History Virginia Portsmouth Association, p. 164; Mason in 2lW(2)153. 

34. W. H. Stewart, History of Norfolk County, p. 34. 

35. Wingo, in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 4 May 1952. 

36. Wertenbaker, Norfolk, pp. 60-61; Forrest, Norfolk, p. 75. 

37. Wertenbaker, op. cit., pp. 61-62. 

38. Ibid., pp. 63-64. 

39. Forrest, op. cit.. pp. 76-77. 

40. Clinton MS 267, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

41. Wertenbaker, op. cit.. pp. 67-73. 

42. Lorenz, John Paul Jones, p. 254; R. A. Stewart, Virginia's Nary of the Resolution, p. 177. 

43. Wertenbaker, op. cit., pp. 76-80. 


44. Ibid., pp. 104-120. 

45. Ibid., p. 122. 

46. Forrest, ojt. cit., pp. 122-.T. 

47. Ibid., pp. 124-6; Wertenbaker, of', cil., pp. 123-4. 

48. Memoirs, Morton B. Howell, p. 23. 

49. Wertenbaker, 0/7. r//., pp. 124-5, 203-4. 

50. Byrd, Dividing Line, p. 20. 

51. W. H. Stewart, op. cil., p. 28; the photograph of the Hospital, later mentioned, is in this 

52. Forrest, op. cii., p. 325 (footnote). 

53. 16W(2)57. 

54. Ibid., pp. 66-7. 

55. Wertenbaker, op. cit., p. 229. 

56. Ibid., pp. 238-9. 

57. Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Plate XXVI. 

58. Porter, Norfolk County, 1861-2, pp. 49-141, passim. 

59. Norfolk Vtrgtnian-Pilot, 23 July 1933. 

60. Wertenbaker, op. cit., pp. 324-5. 

61. R. A. Stewart, op. cit., pp. 144-5. 

62. 4V82-3. 

63. Norfolk Ledger-Disp.itch, 15 June 1950. 

64. 9W(2)42; Forrest, op. cit., p. 131; see also Chapter III — the Blunt Chart of 1841 is there 

65. Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 16 January 1955. 

66. Economic Data, Norfolk County, 19}1, passim. 

67. 1V447-50, 4V82-3. 

68. Norfolk County Records, Book 9, p. 9. 

69. Ibid., Book 6, p. 258; Book 17, p. 117; Book 9, pp. 12, 60. 

70. Ibid., Book 5, p. 208; 3N 138-146. 

71. 19W(1)195. 

72. Norfolk County Records, Book 10, p. 43, Book I, p. 300. 

73. Ibid.. Book 8, p. 11; Book 9, p. 2; Book 10, pp. 40-42. See also 1W( 1)163. 

74. Norfolk County Records, Book 6, pp. 111-14; Book ?, p. 7; Book I, p. 320; Book E, p. 172-3. 

75. Ibid., Book 9, p. 572; Book I, p. 218; Will Book 2, p. 179; Will Book 3, p. 140; 8W(2)I01. 

76. Freeman, George Washington, I, 93, 103. 

77. Norfolk County Records, Book 9, p. 220, 591. 

78. R. A. Stewart, op. cit., pp. 213, 262, 269- 

79. Forrest, op. cit., p. 54. 

80. Norfolk County Records. Book 11, p. 50; Book I, p. 239; Will Book 2, p. 84. 

81. H. Granville Tilghman in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 26 June 1940. 

82. Kyle in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 16 January 1955. 

83. Clare Marcus in Norfolk Virginian Pilot. 29 June 1952. 

Chapter XII 

Norfolk Town 

IN OUR STORY of Lower Norfolk County^ we told of futile efforts 
to establish ports as early as 1654/5 and to concentrate in chem the 
religious, judicial and commercial activities of the county. We also told 
of the Act of Assembly of 1680, providing for the establishment of twenty 
towns, one in each of the then-existing counties. Five of these towns were 
located in Lower Tidewater: they were in the counties of Isle of Wight, 
Warwick, Elizabeth City, Nansemond and Lower Norfolk. It is to the town 
of Lower Norfolk County that we wish to invite attention in the present 

As previously noted, the Assembly which convened in June, 1680, passed 
the above-mentioned law with specific provisions as to how and where the 
towns were to be established. The County Court in each county was to have 
a survey made and purchase fifty acres which had been previously chosen 
and specified in the Act. As was pointed out in Chapter X, the town site 
for Lower Norfolk was there described as follows: 

... on Nicholas Wise his land on the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River 

at the entrance of the branch. - 
The reason for the choice of this site is obvious, since it was at a land-and- 
water crossroads. It will be recalled that, as early as 1636, a ferry crossing 
here connected Lynnhaven in the east with the Western Branch area, and 
the site was strategically located at the confluence of the Eastern and Southern 
Branches, by which a large part of the county was accessible by water. In 
fact, this very accessibility was what made this the logical place for the fort 
of 1673, and ferry and fort being here — and parish church not far away — 
this spot was certainly the logical place for a town. 

It might not be out of place to give a brief history of the ownership of 
this site. It first became private property by a colonial land grant of 
13 February 1636 ''7 to Captain Thomas WiUoughby for two hundred acres 
"upon the first [.•*} eastern branch of the Elizabeth River." As in many early 
grants, the description is very vague and only from later grants and deeds 
can we know exactly \\'here the land was. This was, of course, not Captain 


Willoughby's residence, and he did not hold the land very long. By assign- 
ment, confirmed by patent of 1 April 1644, he sold it to John Watkins, but 
since the latter was here as early as 1640, Willoughby may have disposed 
ot the site sooner than that. The description in the 1644 patent is con- 
siderably clearer and shows that the tract was rectangular and measured 
148 poles (2442 feet) by 232 poles (3828 feet), with its short sides 
running north northeast, and the long sides running east southeast. It is 
to be further noted that two of its corners (the southernmost) stood on 
Four Farthing Point (west end of Main Street) and a point at the mouth 
of Dun-in-the-Mire Creek (east end of Main Street in front of Union 

Here are two of our oldest place-names in Norfolk (1644), and as 
curiosities they should be explained. An authority of 1602 wrote "Commonlie 
thirty acres make a farthing land," so we are not dealing with quarter 
pennies, but with quarter hides. Thus four farthings would make a hide, 
a medieval English unit of area equal to one hundred and twenty acres. It 
IS difficult to discern the connection, since the tract in question remained 
200 acres in area until the town land was cut off, as will appear below. 
Dun-in-the-Mire also has a medieval connotation. "Dun" is defined as 
grayish-brown, and commonly used to refer to a horse of this color. As 
early as 1386, Chaucer wrote: 

Ther gan cure Hooste for to jape and pleye, 
And seyde, "Sires, what! Dun is in the Myre! 
Is ther no man, for preyere ne for hyre. 
That wole awake oure felawe al bihynde.'' 

Alanciple's Prologue, lines 4-7. 

In Siiiut Patrick for Ireland (1640), Shirley wrote: 

Then draw Dun out of the Mire, 
And throw the Clog* into the fire . . . 

and Gilliat in Forest OutLiws (1887) referred to "merry games at barley- 
brake and dun-in-the-mire." From these quotations, we can deduce two 
meanings: first, "things are at a standstill," as used by Chaucer; second, to 
refer to the games and merriment in connection with the traditional bringing 
in of the Yule log. It seems, therefore, that there may have been some 
Christmas merry-making at Watkins' on Elizabeth River in one of those 
winters between 1637 and 1644!* 

Following Watkins, a succession of owners held this site during the 
next twenty years, acquiring it by assignment or patent or both. There is 
no need to go into tedious detail; the successive patentees were John 

* Yule log. 


1680 - 1736 

This plat has been constructed in accordance with the descriptions of the lots as contained in the 

original deeds. It siiould be noted, however, that the north-line shown is magnetic north for about the 
year 1700. The old deeds show the course of the central sector of Main Street as between N 82° W and 
N 84" VV, or a mean course of N 83° W, whereas its true course is N 89" W; this means a magnetic 

variation of 6" E. The sites have been numbered for purposes of ready reference, and are listed below 
\\ ith names and dates of owners or occupants. These dates do not necessarily represent grants or deeds: 

George Newton (I) 1694 

Peter Smith 1701/2 

Richard Smith 1709 

Francis Simpson (two lots) 1694 

Thomas Mason (one lot) 1696 

Richard Smith (one lot) 1717/8 

Samuel Boush (II) 1696/7 

Daniel Porten 1713 

William Porten (II) 1714 

Anthony Walkeii i7.::o/i 

Mary Hodges 1696/7 

Dr. William Miller 1708/9 

Mary and Ann Cook 1708/9 
Not taken 

Samuel Boush (I) 1729 

William Robinson (two lots) ibSg 

Arthur Moseley (two lots) 1689 

Samuel Boush (II) 1729 

Malachi Thruston (two lots) 1692 

Bartholomew Clarke (one lot) 1093 

John Dibbs (one lot) 1699/1700 

Roger Dibbs (one lot) 1729 

Israel Voss 1697 

John Loftland 1709/10 

Thomas Nash (II) 1697 

Bartholomew Clarke 1709/10 

Samuel Smith (1) 1721 
Samuel Powers 

Edward Moseley 1697 

Benoni Smith 1718 

Thomas Walke 1694 

Edward Moseley 1697 

Anthony Lawson 1701 

Bartholomew Clarke 1701/2 

James McCoy 1701/2 

William Langley (II) 1709/10 

Jeremiah Langley 1718 

Sampson Powers 1709/10 

John Godfrey (two lots) 1695/6 

Joseph Church 171 1 

Matthew Godfrey 171S 

James Wilson (part) 1715/16 

Arthur Godfrey (part) 1716 

Solomon Wilson (part) 1716 

John Mirphee 1721 

Joseph Lee ; 171 1 

Robert Tucker • 1722 

Henry Gristock 1722 

Edward Moseley 1716 

Nathaniel Tatem 1731 

John Redwood (two lots) 1693 

Owen Jones (one lot) 1719 

Archibald Williamson (one lot) 1719 

William Porten (I) (six lots) 1687 

Daniel Porten (si.x lots) 1692/3 

Mary Furlong (one lot) 1714 

William Porten (II) (five lots) 1714 

Anthony Walke (five lots) 1720/21 

Samuel Boush (I) 1695/6 

Matthew Godfrey 1695/6 

Thomas Wright 1717 

The School Lot 1680 

Trustees appointed 1728 





Church built 

1 698- 1 700 


John Dibbs 


Peter Cartwright 



Peter Malbone 


Samuel Boush (I) (lo-ft. strip) 



adj.) Peter Malbone 




Peter Blake 

it 1695/6 

Peter Cartwright . .,., "T! 

• 1705/6 


Thomas Butt A )' 
William Heslett ^i' 




Thomas Hodges (half) 



Lewis Conner (two lots) 

I 695/6 


Captain Archer (tenant?) 



Samuel Smith (I) 




Benedictus Horsington (two loth 

) 1701/2 


Peter Malbone 



/ • 

Peter Cartwright (two lots) 



Fergus Thompson (two lots) 



Captain William Boswell (tenant 

?) 1721 


Court House Field 


First Court House built 


Second Court House built 




William Heslett (three lots) 


Nathaniel Newton (part) 



1 1. 

William Knott (two lots) 


John Thruston 



Malachi Thruston (six lots) 




Samuel Sizemore 



Dr. Thomas Tabor 



Dr. Thomas Tabor 




Cornelius Tully 


Edward Thruston 



Dr. Thomas Tabor 

c. 1O96 



The Fort, built 


"Barnabe's house" 


Public Warehouse built 




Thomas Hodges 




William Cook 

c. 1O83 


Richard and Jane Hill 

c. 1084 

Mrs. Jane Sawcer, widow of R. 
Samuel Smith 

Hill 1O89 



Thomas Wallice 

\ 1705 


Henry Spratt (one lot) 



William Knott (two lots) 

c. 1689 

William Porten (II) 


John Tucker (one lot) 



Robert Tucker (one lot) 




Richard Whitlev 


Peter Smith 



vviiiiain V I aiui u 
Solomon Wilson 



Peter Smith 



Peter Hobson 


George Mason 



William Porten 


Peter Smith 


George Newton (I) 



Lemuel Newton 




George Newton (II) 


Peter Malbone 



Geo. & Nathaniel Newton 


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Norwood (30 April 1644), Peter Michaelson "and others, owners of the 
ship Huis van Nassau"* (4 March 1649/50), Francis Emperor, merchant 
(18 February 1653/4, renewed 3 March 1656/7), Lewis VandermuUen,** 
and Nicholas Wise (19 October 1662, confirmed by renewal 18 March 

This, then, was Nicholas Wise's land, part of which was designated for 
the site for the town in Lower Norfolk County in June, 1680. The County 
Court acted promptly in complying with the provisions of the Town Act, 
and just two months later, the following court order — which is self-ex- 
planatory — appeared in the minutes under date of 18 August 1680: 

Whereas it is enacted that within two months after publication of the last Acts 
of Assembly that a Certain quantity of land bee Laid out for the building of 
a towne upon Nicholas Wise his Land butt noe certaine day appointed, this 
Court have therefore thought fitt and ordered that the Land bee laid out & 
surveyed according to Act of Assembly by M'. Jn". Ferebee surveyor of this 
County upon the 7th day of October next and the Sheriffe give him notice 
heereof, and also to the people who If they think fitt may bee present abt the 
survey, and to the End that noe pson whatsoever in this County ever heere- 
after pretend Ignorance of the time, It is further ordered that the severall 
ministers in this county* give notice thereof in their severale Churches and 
Chapells of Ease to their Respective Congregations by which means it is pre- 
sumed all people will have notice of the same." 

The survey was accomplished as ordered, and on 19 October 1680, Ferebee 
was paid "for surveying the towne land and offitiating as Cl[erk] of the 
Militia." Exactly one year later — 19 October 1681 — there was recorded an- 
other payment to John Ferebee "as Gierke of the militia & laying out the 
streets in the Town."^ Careful consideration of the above facts will clearly 
show that Norfolk Town was established by law in 1680, was surveyed 
almost immediately, and was ready for settlers, so to speak, before the end 
of 1681. It is, therefore, contrary to the historical facts that the Norfolk City 
seal displays the date "1682." 

We referred in an earlier chapter to the opposition to the Town Act, 
and it is to be noted that the King (Charles II), on advice of his Privy 
Council in session at Whitehall Palace, suspended the law on 21 December 
1681. The historian, Beverley, wrote (1705) that the Act "was kindly 
brought to nothing by the Opposition of the Merchants of London." As 
a matter of fact and record, it was his own father, Major Robert Beverley, 
who had much to do with it. The whole business was closely tied in with 
attempts to inflate the price of tobacco, and the words used almost three 

* House of Nassau: could these shipowners have been a Dutch trading company? 
** Another Hollander? 

* Rev. William Kern in Elizabeth River, Rev. James Porter in Lynnhaven. 


hundred years ago have a strangely familiar ring in present day ears. There 
was talk of a tobacco holiday, of destroying plants in the fields, and of 
holding shipments up for higher prices. Major Beverley, then Clerk of the 
House of Burgesses, was an advocate of these measures and was suspected 
of being the ringleader of the "night riders" who cut down the tobacco of 
some unwilling planters in the spring of 1682. He was arrested and held in 
custody for a short time in May, when he was said to have been "instru- 
mental in the late commotions by stirring up informations upon the Act of 
Co-habitation." A year later the Council of State inquired into the suspension 
of the law, and reported to the Governor that it obstructed trade instead 
of encouraging it, in that planters were enjoined to transport their products 
to places where there was no shelter for their reception and they had to be 
turned away. Nothing further apparently was done about the Town Act, 
and it was never reactivated.'" 

In the midst of all these troubles, the Lower Norfolk County Court 
proceeded just as if the Town Act had never been suspended, and appointed 
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Lawson and Captain William Robinson as 
feoffees in trust for the town land. These two gentlemen, in turn, set about 
the perfomiance of their functions by arranging to acquire legal title to the 
Wise land. This was finally accomplished on 16 August 1682, and the deed 
recorded on that date furnishes details important to the present account." 
In the first place, we learn that the grantor, Nicholas Wise, shipwright,* 
was son and heir to him of the same name, purchaser of the land in 1662, 
who had died meanwhile; that the purchase price of the town site was 
10,000 lbs. of tobacco and cask; that the tract was of 50 acres bounded on 
the south and west by Elizabeth River, on the north by a creek (which 
soon became known as Back Creek since it was behind the town), and on 
the east by a row of stakes; that the tract was made up partly of an old field 
and partly of some points of woodland; and that it was "a small nick 
[neck] of cleared ground and woodland and part of 200 acres formerly 
purchased by mij father [Nicholas Wise the elder} deceased . . ." This deed 
was witnessed by four individuals, two of whom are known in other con- 
nections; one was Plomer (or Plummer) Bray, who was mentioned in a 
previous chapter as a headright in Simon Cormick's patent of 1653, and who 
by deed of 16 May 1690, purchased some land in Lynnhaven from James 
and Grace Sherwood;" the other witness was Richard Hill, who became 
one of the first lot owners in Norfolk, as will appear below. Wise's deed 
to the feoffees contained the following customary clause in connection with 
the purchase price: "the Receipt whereof I doe hereby acknowledge . . . and 
wherew"' I hold myselfe well Satisfied Contented and paid . . ." This state- 

* Shipbuilder. 


ment was not in accordance with the facts, for the payment to him was 
not recorded until 12 January 1682/3, thus: 

To Nich". Wise for the towneland 1 0000 

& caske at 8 pcent 800 108001' 

This throws some light on tlie custom of quoting prices in pounds of 
tobacco plus the casks in which it was contamed; apparently the practise 
was altered, and instead of actually delivering the casks, eight per cent was 
added to the total for their value. 

This deed of 1682 is the reason for the appearance of that year on the 
City seal as above mentioned. In the light of what has gone before, it is 
clear the deed was merely evidence of purchase of the land, and in no way 
an instrument establishing the town; that was done two years before when 
the law was passed. It is reiterated that the year 1680 is the correct date 
to use in referring to the establishment of the town of Lower Norfolk County. 

The original area of the town should be defined in terms of present-day 
Norfolk, and for this purpose the reader is referred to the plat which is 
given at the end of the present chapter. It will be seen that Main Street 
followed the same course in 1681 as it does today, though a few feet 
longer at each end because of filling in there. Main Street was laid out with 
bends at each end to conform to the lay of the land, being on the high 
ground among the various creek branches. In the center was a "street that 
leadeth down to the waterside," which is the present Commercial Place, and 
its irregular intersection with Main Street (where the Confederate Monument 
now is) was the Market Place. The "street that leadeth into the woods"* 
is the present Church Street, later so-called for obvious reasons, and the 
"street that leadeth to the publique spring," the town's sole water supply, is 
still in existence under the name of Metcalf Lane. Last of all there was 
the Back Street, composed of two sections almost at right angles to each 
other; the part parallel to Main Street is now the east end of Bermuda 
Street, and the part at right angles is present East Street. The riverfront has 
been considerably filled in and extended, and the two creeks to the north 
have completely disappeared, following approximately the course of City Hall 
Avenue. It can be seen the street leading into the woods was over the 
only dry land connecting the little peninsula with the mainland.'' 

One authority'" reports: "In the [1680] towns, spaces were generally 
left for a market house, church and otlier public buildings;" and with this 
we heartily agree, the "other public buildings" in this case being a court 
house and a school. It is a rather fine line to draw, we must admit, as to 
whether these lots could be laid out before the streets were in 1681, but 
it must have been planned from the very beginning to reserve these spaces; 

* Later called "the street that leadeth out of town," for reasons to be given below. 


hence we have assumed that the churchyard, school lot and court house lot 
were so designated in 1680. It is known positively that this was true of the 
school lot, as will appear below. The fort, of course, was here from 1673, 
as before noted, and the land on which it stood continued to be called "the 
fort land" down to the Revolution; it is a triangular area bounded by West 
Main Street, the present Fayette Street and the Elizabeth River. 

It has been shown in previous chapters that the date of a land grant or 
deed of sale frequently did not indicate when the grantee actually took 
possession of the premises in question, and often a person was residing on 
land several years before his ownership was legally recorded. So it was in 
the case of the town lot: it is not known why the feoffees did not get their 
title to the town site until two years after it was surveyed, but it is obvious 
they could not dispose of the land until after Wise had executed and recorded 
the deed in their favor. Thus the fact that the first feoffee grant did not 
occur until late 1683 by no means signified that there were no town 
residents until that time. In fact, that first grant indicated clearly that there 
were other persons, whose grants are not preserved, in possession of certain 
lots before that first grantee got his. We shall go into some detail regarding 
these lots, since they were the first to be owned in the town of Norfolk 

The first grant made by the feoffees Lawson and Robinson was for three 
half-acre lots (22, 23, 24)* to Peter Smith, mariner, and was dated 17 Oc- 
tober 1683." It was clearly stated in this document that he "took up and 
now liveth on" one of these lots (23); this implies building a house, so 
he must have been there since late 1681 or early 1682. 

It was also stated that another one of the three (22) had been "taken 
up" by Richard Whitley and adjoined a lot (21) belonging to Mr. Justice 
Henry Spratt. Neither Whitley's nor Spratt's name appeared again in con- 
nection with these sites. Smith's third lot (24) was said to have been 
formerly "taken up" by William Porten, County Clerk, a convenient place 
for him, as it would have been for Justice Spratt, exactly opposite the 
future Court House, but Porten gave it up for another site as will appear 
below. Thus we have four adjoining lot holders in 1681-83, though two 
of them did not become permanent residents. 

The second feoffee grant^^ was made to Mr. William Porten for six 
lots (48); this was on 17 1687 — incidentally the day before the 
centennial of Virginia Dare's birthday. As will appear in more detail below, 
Porten had come into possession of the remaining 150 acres of Wise's 

* From this point on, every lot mentioned will have a parenthetical number after it corre- 
sponding to the similarly numbered sites on the town plat given at the end of this chapter. In this 
way, the reader can tell exactly where the lots were. 


tract in 1684, and these six lots adjoined his large tract outside the town 

On 8 May 1689 there was recorded a grant which in one succinct sentence 
tells a long story. This document indicated the grant of a lot (19) to 
"JMrs. Jane Sawcer,* relict of Richard Hill, . . . one lott which W™. Cook 
made over to the late Richard Hill and Jane his wife . . ."^" There is on 
record no feoffee grant to Cook, and no assignment by the latter to Hill, 
but it is clear from the above statement that William Cook had this lot very 
early, to which he made good his claim, that he sold it to Richard Hill who 
also had a valid claim, that Hill died and his widow remarried, and that 
she received a grant in confirmation of her first husband's claim in 1689, 
at which time her second husband had apparently passed on. It is impossible 
to date these events but William Cook's possession was at the beginning 
of the sequence. It will be recalled that Richard Hill was a witness to 
Wise's deed to the feoffees in August, 1682, which may or may not be 
significant, as the deed could have been signed anywhere. However, it is 
entirely possible that William Porten, who recorded the deed in his capacity 
as Clerk of the County Court, may have been running the clerk's office on 
his first lot (24) as early as 1682, but this is pure surmise. 

The next grant was on 15 November 1689 for two lots (33) to Arthur 
Moseley;'^ this was the son of the first William Moseley of RoUeston, Eastern 
Branch precinct, Lynnhaven Parish, mentioned in Chapter X. His name does 
not appear in the town records again, so it is to be assumed the grant 
relapsed. It is of special interest, however, that mention was made in this 
grant of an adjoining site (32) owned by Captain William Robinson, 
Justice, feoffee and Burgess, for whom no grant survives. His son of the 
same name still owned this lot in 1729. 

On 16 November 1689, a payment was recorded to Captain William 
Knott, mariner, for acting as ferryman." This is a strong indication that he 
was living in the town at this time. It was noted in another grant three 
years later — and will so appear below — that he then owned two lots (21) 
which he lived on. It is not improbable that he had them as early as 1689, 
though no grant for them is on record. This was the site formerly called 
Henry Spratt's in 1683, to which the latter did not make good a claim. 

In summary of this first period before the County's division (l69l), 
these were the first town lot holders: Peter Smith, Henry Spratt, Richard 
Whitley, William Porten, William Cook, Richard Hill and Mrs. Jane Sawcer 
(his widow), William Robinson, Arthur Moseley and William Knott. Spratt, 
Whitley and Moseley did not make good their claims; Cook sold his lot to 

* This name Wii.s extremely difficult to read in all the places it is recorded, sometimes seeming 
to be Sawie or Sowie or even Lawler; it is indexed as the latter. The reading above seems best, 
and it may be a variant of the French '"Saucier." 


Hill, and the latter's widow came into possession. Therefore in 1691, there 
were only five lot holders: Peter Smith, William Porten, Mrs. Jane Sawcer, 
William Knott, and William Robinson. 

Before going on to the important events of 1691, it will be of interest 
to trace the history of the remaining part of Nicholas Wise's land, since 
it was eventually to fall within Norfolk's boundary. It will be recalled that 
Wise's tract was originally 200 acres, whereof he sold fifty to the feoffees 
for the town. The balance of 150 acres has a curious story: There are on 
record two deeds made by Wise, conveying this tract to two different in- 
dividuals. On 6 September 1682, a deed from Nicholas Wise to Charles 
Wilder tells of the sale of "the balance of two hundred acres which my 
father purchased of Lewis VandermuU by deed of 19 October 1662 excepting 
fifty acres already conveyed to the feoffees for a town in Lower Norfolk 
County . . ." Then on 15 February 1682/3 (five months later) there was 
recorded a second deed from Nicholas Wise to Jacob Hill for "a tract of 
land of mijne . . . according to the grand patent, excepting the land now 
belonging to the town . . ." One would suppose that the older of these two 
deeds — that to Wilder — would be the valid one; but this is the curious 
circumstance: Jacob Hill recorded his deed on 16 February 1683 (the day 
after it was executed), whereas Wilder's was not recorded until 18 May 
1683 (five months after its date, and three months after Hill's). It is ap- 
parent that Hill's deed was recognized, from the fact that on 16 June 1684 
Jacob Hill sold to William Porten "150 acres on the North side of Elizabeth 
River . . . the remaining part of a patent of 200 acres whereof the town 
land is part, and that I purchased of Nicholas Wise by deed of sale bearing 
date the 15 February 1682/3 . . . "^'' Further confirmation of this fact is 
found in a land grant to William Porten dated 21 April 1690 for 248 acres 
adjoining the town land, which contains the following statement: ". . . 150 
acres of which land was part of a pattent of 200 acres granted to Nicholas 
Wise dated 18 March 1662[/3] &: by deed of sale and assignment comes 
due unto the sayd Porten. The residue being 98 acres & due unto the sayd 
Porten by & for the Importation of two persons . . .""" A glance at the 
town plat at the end of this chapter will show a part of the Porten patent 
and its position in relation to the town land. The bounds of Porten's land 
seem to correspond to those in the Watkins patent of 1644 for 200 acres 
less the town land, but Porten's patent was for 248 acres; this is a discrepancy 
that has not been explained. 

The General Assembly, convened in April, 1691, passed two laws of 
great importance to this story. One of these was the act for dividing Lower 
Norfolk County into two separate units to be called Norfolk County and 
Princess Anne County. This circumstance has been treated fully elsewhere 
m the chapters on these two counties; it should be mentioned here, however. 



that the "town of Lower Norfolk County," after the passage of the above 
act, was referred to logically enough in the records as "the town of Norfolk 
County." The other law passed at this time had to do with further efforts to 
establish towns and should be considered in some detail. 

This second law of April, 1691, was entitled "An Act for Establishmg 
Ports and Markets," and was obviously an effort to revive the previously- 
suspended town law of 1681.'' There was very little difference in the pro- 
visions of the two laws: the same twenty towns were established, one in 
each county, each was made a legal market, but only fifteen of the twenty 
were established as ports of entry; half-acre lots were offered as before to 
those who would build and settle on them. The most interesting feature of 
the 1691 law, however, was that it described in detail the twenty sites, and 
it is obvious from these descriptions that only ten of the twenty towns had 
been established after the passage of the 1680 act. Here are the ten that, by 
1691, had been laid out and built upon: 

Charles City 

James Cit)' 

Isle of Wight'* 


Elizabeth Cit)' 

Lower Norfolk 



Name or Location 
Flowerdew Hundred 



Hufifes [Hough's] Point 

Mathews Land 

William Wilson's land 

Nicholas Wise's land 
Murdock Creek 
"Hobbs His Hole " 


("several dwelling houses 
(and warehouses built " 

I no further description 
) necessary 

"houses built" 
"built upon" 

"several houses there 
built together with a 
brick Court House and 

"several dwelling houses 
and warehouses already 
built " 

r 'several dwelling houses 
-j and warehouses already 

"a warehouse built"'* 
p'a Court House, several 
J dwelling houses and 
] warehouses already 
I built" 

* Towns in Isle of Wight and Warwick were the only two in this group which were desig- 
nated as markets only, but not ports. Obviously, the former would come under Nansemond and the 
latter under Hampton. 

* This is the one still standing at Urbanna. 


County Name or Loaition Description 

"a Court House, several 

Accomack Anancock Creek 

dwelling houses and 
warehouses already 

The first four did not survive, though there is now the village of Battery 
Park on the Isle of Wight site; the others, all of which now include their 
1680 sites, have survived under the names of Warwick,** Hampton, Norfolk, 
Urbanna, Tappahannock and Onancock. Since the primary interest is in 
Norfolk in this chapter, its description is repeated in more detail: "on 
Nicholas Wise his land on the eastern branch of Elizabeth River at the en- 
trance of the branch . . . being the land appointed by a former law [of 1680] 
and accordingly laid out and paid for and several dwelling houses and 
warehouses already built." This is a "thumb-nail" sketch of Norfolk as it 
appeared in 1691; there were probably five houses — those of Peter Smith, 
William Porten, Mrs. Jane Sawcer, Captain William Knott and Captain 
William Robinson — but no guess could be ventured as to the warehouses. 
Of the three 1680 towns in Lower Tidewater, Norfolk is the only one of 
which a detailed story can be given, because of the tragic loss of original 
records in Warwick and Elizabeth City. 

It will be recalled that, in the chapter on Lower Norfolk County, mention 
was made of the project for building a Court House and prison in November, 
1687, and of the Court order of September, 1689, providing for the building 
of two Court Houses, one of which was to be on "the towne land in Elizabeth 
River." The late George Carrington Mason assumed this to have been 
done, but there is no record that it was. On the other hand, there is positive 
evidence that such a building was not there in April, 1691, but was being 
erected within a few months after that time, which marks the establishment 
of Norfolk County. The reader is referred to the following recorded pay- 
ments in the County levy of 24 November 1691: 

To Jn°. Davis Carpenter at the Court House 9700 

To Jn". Roberts Bricklayer 11000 

To Richard Haines for buying the frames from M^ Walke &c. 600 

To M^ Tho^ Hodges for 2000 lOd nayles 240 

To M^ W™. Porten for 4000 8d nayles 400 

To M^ W". Langley [II] for 533 ft. of plank 400 

To M^ W". Porten for 2000 ft. of plank 2000 

To M^ Tho^ Hodges for the frame of the Court House 2500 

To M^ Bartholomew Clarke for the Stocks 50 

To Cap*. W". Knott for the Public Bridge 500" 

** Since this was written the name of Warwick has ceased to exist, both city and county of 
that name having been consolidated with the City of Newport News under the latter name. 


The amounts listed were, as usual, expressed in pounds of tobacco which was 
the currency of that day. It is realized that the story of this Court House 
more properly belongs to the history of Norfolk County, but since it was 
within the town bounds, it has seemed more convenient to include it here. 
It is obvious that the above payments for labor (carpenter and bricklayer), 
frames, planks and nails mark the beginning of the County Court House 
in the town. If the specifications of the 1689 court order were followed — 
and there is no reason to believe they were not — this first Court House in 
Norfolk was of brick, 35 feet long by 20 feet wide, of 10 foot pitch 
(ground to eaves), partitioned so as to form two rooms (the Court room 
20 feet square and a smaller one, probably a record room, 20 feet by 
15 feet), with two chimneys and fireplaces, a cellar, and an upper room 
over the record room to be used as a jury room; there was supposed to 
have been built a brick prison (15 feet square) at the same time, but it is 
not known just when this was accomplished. The site of this Court House 
was the Court House Field or Lot (9) set aside for that purpose when 
Norfolk was laid out in 1680. The reader is referred back to the descriptions 
of the ten towns as they appeared in 1691; it will be apparent that court 
houses had been built in three of them (Warwick, Rappahannock and 
Accomack) but not in the others. This, we believe, coupled with the evidence 
of the county levy of November, 1691, is proof positive that no court house 
was built here until after Norfolk County was established. There is now 
a city historical marker on Main Street inscribed to the effect that it marks 
the site of Lower Norfolk County Court from 1682 to 1691; this marker is 
incorrect on three counts: the name, the date, and the location. This was 
the site of the Norfolk County Court House from 1691, and the marker 
was recently moved a little to the west of where it was originally placed, 
and where it ought to be now, directly in front of the W. G. Swartz 
Company building opposite the Confederate Monument. 

Two items were given above in connection with the levy of November, 
1691, which are only indirectly connected with the Court House. Bartholomew 
Clarke, a blacksmith, was paid for building the stocks, the frame for re- 
straint and display of offenders against the law. He later owned part of a 
town lot, as will appear below, and in January, 1700/01 made handcuffs 
for the use of the County Sheriff in restraining prisoners. Also, in November, 
1691, Captain William Knott was paid for building "the Public Bridge." 
Since Knott lived in town, it is to be assumed that this bridge was where 
the road out of town crossed an arm of Newton's (formerly Dun-in-the- 
Mire) Creek at the present corner of Church and Charlotte Streets, a spot 
still known as "Town Bridge" in the memory of persons now living. It is 
significant that Church Street, which had been called "the street that goes 



into the woods" in 1687, was referred to after 1696 as "the street that goes 
out of town." 

ft appears that, as in the case of the Parish Church at Seawell's Point 
earlier, there was some dissatisfaction concerning the progress toward com- 
pleting the Court House. Nearly two years passed, and the Court minutes 
of 16 September 1693 noted that "John Adams hath been these two or three 
years past by an agreement to build the Court House . . . having been so 
long about it . . ." And it was urged that he be compelled to complete it 
without further delay.-'' The County levy of 17 November 1694 showed a 
payment to Captain William Knott "for a lock for the Court Dore."-'' This 
must indicate completion of the building. 

Like its predecessor act of 1680, the Act of 1691 for Establishing Ports 
and Markets was also suspended; this took place in March, 1692/3-"" But 
as before, the feoffees continued to grant town lots and people continued to 
settle on them, both before and after the suspension. Such grants now become 
too numerous to follow in detail, so we shall simply list the new grants by 
site, owner and approximate date between 1691 and 1705 (when another 
attempt was going to be made to establish towns) : 

Site Owner Date 

11 Captain William Knott 1692 

34 Malachi Thruston 1692 
8 Fergus Thompson 1693 

13 Samuel Sizemore (later Tabor's) 1693 
47 John Redwood 1693 

12 Malachi Thruston 1694 

26 George Newton [1} 1694 

27 Francis Simpson 1694 
39 Thomas Walke (later Moseley's) 1694 
10 William Heslett 1694/5 

14 D--. Thomas Tabor 1695 

3 Peter Blake 1695/6 

4 Thomas Butt 1695/6 

5 Lewis Conner 1695/6 
42 John Godfrey 1695/6 

49 Samuel Boush [1} 1695/6 

50 Matthew Godfrey 1695/6 
16 D^ Thomas Tabor c. 1696 

28 Samuel Boush [II] 1696/7 

29 Mary Hodges 1696/7 
18 Thomas Hodges 1697 

35 Israel Voss 1697 

36 Thomas Nash [II] 1697 
38 and 39 Edward Moseley 1697 

V.i. 22 




The above lot holders are known either from land grants to them or trom 
mention of their names in descriptions of adjoining lots. Other lots changed 
hands through sale by the original grantees, and here they are: 




Captain John Dibbs 


Cornelius Tully 


Benedictus Horsington 


George Newton [11} 


James McCoy 





34 (part) 

Malachi Thruston to 

Bartholomew Clarke 



Peter Smith to 

Peter Hobson 



Peter Smith to 

Mrs. Frances Newton 



Thomas Butt to 

William Heslett 



Francis Simpson to 

Thomas Mason 



William Heslett to 

Thomas Hodges 


34 (part) 

Malachi Thruston to 

John Dibbs 



Edward Moseley to 

Anthony Lawson 

a. 1701 


George Newton [11} to 

Nathaniel Newton 



Thomas Lawson to 

Bartholomew Clarke 


Still other lots changed hands through the death of the original owners, 
sometimes by direct bequest in the will, sometimes by descent in case of 
death intestate. The following are those who died at this time, and the 
heirs to their town lots: 

Daniel Porten (son) 
George Newton [II} (son) 
\John Thruston 
(/W™. Porten [II} (godson) 
Mrs. Ann Heslett (widow) 
John Hobson (son) 
Lewis Conner [II} (son) 
^Malachi [II} and John 
I Thruston (sons) 
[John Tabor ( son ) 
-| Thomas Tabor [II} (son) 
[Rosamond Tabor (dau.) 
Thomas Lawson ( son ) -* 

We must go back a few years to give an account of the first parish 
church in town. It will be recalled that mention was made in Chapter X of 
the fact that the Elizabeth River Chapel of 1640-1 was built on land originally 





William Porten 



George Newton [1} 



Capt. Wm. Knott 




William Heslett 



Peter Hobson 



Lewis Conner [1} 



Malachi Thruston 



Dr. Thomas Tabor 


14 . 



Lt. Col. Anthony Lawson 



Robert Glascocke's, which the latter sold to William Shipp before 1654; 
and that this same location was designated as the site for Elizabeth River 
Parish Church in 1655. These facts are in accord with the account given 
by the late George C. Mason, but the latter went further and interpreted 
certain records to mean that the Elizabeth River site was identical with the 
churchyard in town, a spot still so used. With this we cannot agree. Our 
reasons for believing the Glascocke-Shipp property farther down Elizabeth 
River have been sufficiently discussed previously, and it is not appropriate 
to belabor the point further. We cannot help pointing out one fact, however: 
the site (1) which was set aside as a churchyard in the town was right in 
the middle of Wise's 200-acre tract, and right on the line of the town land 
when the latter was cut off and sold in 1682. In not one of the patents or 
assignments from Watkins to Norwood to Michaelson to Emperor to Vander- 
mullen to Wise to feoffees, and Wise to Hill to Porten — in not one of these 
recorded documents, reaching from 1644 to 1690, was there any mention 
of a church or chapel. It is inconceivable that such a building could have 
been there and not be mentioned; it is also notable that, in the parade of 
owners after Willoughby's first grant, the names of Glascocke and Shipp 
are conspicuous by their absence. 

The first mention of church affairs even remotely connected with the 
town — after the hypothetical setting aside of a churchyard in 1680-1 — came 
with a land grant dated 30 October 1686 in the name of Elizabeth River 
Parish for a Glebe of 100 acres.^' This land touched Porten's land on the 
northwest and northeast by an irregular line, part of which is shown on 
the town plat (see below) ; in fact, Porten's patent of 1690 carried mention 
of the fact that his land adjoined the Glebe. The latter area was encom- 
passed in terms of present-day boundaries, by Bute Street (between the 
corner of Brewer Street and the stone just west of Boush), a line parallel 
to Boush Street, to Brooke Avenue, to the Elizabeth River, to Atlantic City 
bridge and the Hague to the Norfolk Museum and on to Olney Road and 
to the corner of Bute and Brewer Streets. That part of the Hague which 
extended beyond the Museum — now mostly filled in — was first called EUett's 
Creek after an early (1664) owner, and came to be known as Glebe Creek 
after 1686. 

There was still no evidence of building on the churchyard lot (l) until 
some years after the Glebe grant. The reader's attention is invited to the 
feoffee grant to John Dibbs (mentioned above) for one lot (2) and dated 
15 July 1698.®*' The description of this lot is clear and easy to follow; with- 
out going into the technical language of the surveyor, he began at the 
corner of Peter Blake's lot (3) and ran back 247.5 feet "to a Gutt of the 
Back Creek nmning up to the Publique Spring," then again from the be- 
ginning and running northeast along the street (Church Street) 244.2 feet, 


then back from the street in a northwest direction 132.0 feet, then southwest 
231 feet "bounding on Porten's land ... to a marked chincapin the begin- 
ning line of the town survey and bounding on the head of the Back Creek 
and the Gutt that runs to the Pubhque Sprmg." Careful measurement of 
the three lots (2, 3, 4) between the corner of Main and Church Streets and 
the churchyard, shows that the Dibbs lot (2) must have touched the latter, 
and that the northwest 132-foot line was its boundary. Again it is incon- 
ceivable that a church could have been there and not be mentioned in the 
Dibbs grant of 1698. 

All that has gone before is negative evidence. The first positive evidence 
of a church in town still exists m the form of a silver chalice (displayed in 
the Norfolk Museum) engraved as follows: 

The Gift of Cap': Sam': Boush 

to the Parish Church of 

Norfolk Towne March 1700 

This chalice bears the London date-letter for 1700-01,^^ which means it was 
engraved in the March in which 1700 ended and 1701 began, according to the 
Old Style Calendar. Allowing some time for instructions for its making to 
be received in London, and for the cup to be completed before it was 
engraved, we must assume that "the Parish Church of Norfolk Towne" was 
nearing its completion in late 1699 or early 1700 at the earliest, not having 
been begun until the latter half of 1698. It is to be assumed that this first 
church in town* was a simple rectangular brick building. It would have been 
oriented east and west (in accordance with canon law and custom), and 
therefore at an angle with the road or street, which ran roughly in a north- 
easterly direction. It was also probably near the south corner of the church- 
yard, which would be the nearest point to the homes of the townspeople. 
It is not known when this site was first used as a burial ground, possibly 
shortly after it was set aside in 1680. At any rate, the only three pre- 1700 
tombstones there are known to have been removed from elsewhere to this spot. 
As to the parish ministers of this period, the picture is slightly confused. 
In an earlier chapter it was noted that Reverend William Kern was minister 
of Elizabeth River Parish in June, I68O — though how long before or after 
that is not known — and that the non-conformist Reverend Josias Mackie 
was minister of Elizabeth River Parish from possibly in 1684 until certainly 
1692. The parish had no recorded minister thereafter until Reverend William 
Rudd. This young man was ordained by the Bishop of London on 12 August 
1699, and on the 31st he received the King's Bounty for Virginia, £20 to 
help pay his expenses hither. He may possibly have arrived here in late 

* It was the third Elizabeth River Parish Church, the first having been at Seawells Point, and 
the second on Elizabeth River. 


1699, about when the parish church in town was being finished. Mr. Rudd 
was shown on the list of Parishes and Clergy for 8 July 1702 as being in 
Elizabeth River. In April, 1703, he was invited to preach every Thursday 
by the vestry of neighboring Chuckatuck Parish, Nansemond County, and 
during the following summer was asked to preach there every other Sunday. 
Just how long this part-time arrangement between Elizabeth River and 
Chuckatuck lasted, there is no way of knowing.^- 

It is to be noted that the town residents were continuing to acquire land 
under the provisions of an Act of Assembly which, like its predecessor, 
had been suspended. It is obvious, therefore, that the feoffees appointed to 
act as trustees had no legal standing and the grants made by them were — • 
theoretically at least — invalid. This situation was rectified by two Acts of 
Assembly, dated respectively in April, 1699, and October, 1705, whereby the 
land grants made by feoffees in the towns were confirmed in spite of the 
fact that the two town laws had been suspended. Thus the grantees of town 
lots, and those who had purchased or inherited from them, were given 
a clear title to the town land which they held.^^ 

By Act of Assembly of August, 1702, a ferry was established between 
Norfolk and "Sawyer's Point or Lovett's Plantation," the fare was set at 
sixpence for a man or a shilling for a man and horse.^^ It is not known 
whether this replaced the ferry of 1636 whicli crossed to the site later to be- 
come Portsmouth. Lovett's Plantation — still called Lovett's Point today — was 
the north side of the mouth of the Western Branch. 

Tlie Assembly of October, 1703, passed several laws which affected the 
towns in general and Norfolk in particular. One was to provide for building 
roads to connect Williamsburg, the new capital, with every parish church, 
court house, public mill and ferry. It will be recalled a similar law had 
been passed concerning Jamestown in March, 1661/2. At the same time 
(October, 1705) a ferry was established from Seawell's Point to Hampton, 
where the fare was set at three shillings for a man or six shillings for a man 
and horse. This latter ferry was necessary in order to comply with the re- 
quirement of connecting Williamsburgh with the churches and court houses 
of Norfolk and Princess Anne.^'^ 

Tlie most important law of October, 1705, was the Act for Establishing 
Towns or Burghs.* This was obviously designed to renew the previously 
unsuccessful efforts of 1680 and 1691, but only fifteen of the twenty localities 
previously chosen were included in this Act of 1705. In the Lower Tide- 
water area, the towns in Isle of Wight and Warwick were omitted, even 

* Pronounced as if spelled in its modern form "borough." The last syllable of Williamsburgh, 
as then written, must have been so pronounced, as the name of Edinburgh still is today. In a will 
of 1711 a Norfolk County gentleman set aside an amount for his son's education "at the Gramer 
Scoole at Williams Brough." 


though they had been built upon; it will be recalled that they had not been 
made ports in 1691- Outside our area of interest two more were added — 
York Town and West Pomt, presumably established in 1691 or shortly 
thereafter — to the list of those still in existence. In the list of ports and 
corresponding boroughs of 1705, some bore different names; for example, the 
borough in Norfolk County was called "Norfolk" while the port there was 
called "Norfolk Town." As a matter of fact, both port and town came to 
be called "Norfolk Town," a name which this locality had borne unofficially 
much earlier, as witness the inscription on the Boush chalice in March, 

The most remarkable feature of the Act of 1705 was its provision for 
local government, a thing which the previous laws had not envisioned. In 
fact, this Act would be in effect a charter, were it not for the fact that it 
applied generally to all fifteen localities rather than to one specific place as 
a charter would. Each town was established as a borough, and was to build 
a Guild Hall and have merchant guilds and enjoy all customs and liberties be- 
longing to an English free borough. When thirty families were resident in 
any town, the freeholders could elect eight Benchers of the Guild Hall, and 
the latter were to elect one of their number as Director. The Director was 
to preside over three or more Benchers as a Hustings Court, which would 
be a body corporate with a common seal, have limited jurisdiction, be a court 
of record, and employ a town clerk, bailiff, cryer and constable. When the 
population of a town reached sixty families, the Benchers could elect fifteen 
Brethren Assistants, and the freeholders could choose a representative to the 
House of Burgesses. The functions of the feoffees in trust would be taken 
over by the Director and Benchers, and — in accordance with ancient English 
custom — the right was granted to hold a market twice a week and a fair 
once a year; these towns were to be recognized as the only legal markets 
after 25 December 1708. For Norfolk Town, the market days were named 
as Tuesday and Saturday, and the annual fair was to be "the third day of 
October and four days following exclusive of Sunday." 

The local government thus set up would have been identical to that 
provided later by the Borough of Norfolk charter, only under a different 
terminology: the words Director, Benchers and Brethren Assistants were 
obviously identical to Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council; the other 
details were not even disguised under different terms. This Act of 1705 had 
a longer life than that of its predecessors, but sufi^ered the same fate of repeal 
or suspension on 5 July 1710; ". . . thus another struggle for corporate life 
was over. "' 

At the time the Act of 1705 was passed, only ten sites — out of the fifty- 
one given on our town plat for convenient reference — had not been taken. 
Not all of them have feoffee grants preserved in the records for them, but 



some were mentioned in adjoining grants, in wills, etc. These are the owners 
of the last ten sites and their dates: 





Thomas Wallice 



Mary and Ann Cook 



Sampson Powers 



Joseph Church 



Joseph Lee 



Edward Moseley 



Peter Cartwright 



Samuel Powers 



Henry Gristock 



Samuel Boush (II) 


To the above should be added the grant of 1728 to the trustees of the 
School for the school lot (51), which had previously been set iiside; this 
will be mentioned in more detail later. Wallice's ownership is mentioned 
only in his will, to be included in a later list below. In addition to the 
above, there were seven grants for sites whose original grantees had ap- 
parently forfeited them, or may have assigned their rights but did not 
record such assignment: 




Formerly owneci by 


Peter Cartwright 


Peter Blake 


Samuel Smith 


Mrs. Jane Sawcer 


Dr. William Miller 


Mary Hodges 


Capt. William Langley 


James McCoy 


John Loftland* 


Israel Voss 


Richard Smith 


Francis Simpson 


Edward Thruston 


Cornelius Tully-*'^ 

In addition to the grants listed above, there are on record twenty-one 
deeds of sale, as follows: 






Nathaniel Newton 

Peter Malbone 


Benedictus Horsington 

Peter Malbone 


Peter Malbone 

Geo. & Nathl. 



Samuel Boush (11) 

William Furlong 


William Porten (II) 

John Tucker 


Cary Heslett 

Nathl. Newton 


Edward Moseley 

Benoni Smith 


* This name is also recorded as Laughland and Luffland, probably equivalent to the modern 
spelling Laughlin, more usually appearing as Macl.aughlin. 







I John Pierce 
) alias Redwood 



^John Pierce 
|/ alias Redwood 


William Craford 


William Portcn (II) 


Lewis Conner (II) 


William Porten (II) 



Solomon Wilson 


Peter Cartwright 



Nathaniel Tatem 


'' (adjoining) 

Samuel Boush (I) 


(10' strip) 

Peter Malbone 



Peter Malbone 


Samuel Boush (I) 


Samuel Boush (II) 


Edward Moseley 



Archibald Williamson 


Owen Jones 


Solomon Wilson 


Robert Tucker 


Samuel Smith 


Anthony Walke 


John Mirphee 


Peter Malbone 


John Mirphee 


Peter Malbone 


Samuel Boush (I) 


Apphia Malbone 


Samuel Boush (II) 


Samuel Boush (I) 


Nathl. Tatem 


Again, as previously, we learn of some changes in ownership through death 
and inheritance: 

William Wallice (son) 
Malachi Thruston, II (bro. ) 
Amie & Annie Godfrey (dau's.) 
John Voss (son) 
Cradick Porten (son) 
Matthew & Arthur Godfrey 

( nephews ) 
Jeremiah Langley (son) 
Robert, John, (sons) Courtney 

(daughter) Tucker 
Robert Miller (son) 
Margaret Cartwright (dau.) 
Henry Tucker (son) Frances 
Gristock (dau.)" 
In the lists which have been given in this chapter, an attempt has been made 
to give only a bare outline of site ownership in a general way; naturally 
it has been impossible to give all details of changes, and the reader is 
referred to the original records for such details. 

It is appropriate at this time to relate what happened to the immediately 





Thomas Wallice 


11, 12 

John Thruston 



John Godfrey 



Israel Voss 



Daniel Porten 



Matthew Godfrey 



Capt. William Langley 



Robert Tucker 



Dr. William Miller 



Peter Cartwright 



John Tucker 


* This is a piece of land outside the town boundary, exchanged for the 10-foot strip next to 

* The dates for both Tuckers are dates of inventories of their estates; their heirs are learned 
from other sources. 


adjacent tracts of land, those touching the town land to the north and east. 
We have told previously of the conveyance of 1684 to William Porten, 
confirmed by patent of I69O; the latter died intestate about March, 1692/3, 
his land being inlierited by his eldest son, Daniel. Daniel Porten in turn 
died in 1714, and one of the clauses in his will directed that enough land 
be sold by his executor — his father-in-law,* Major Samuel Boush (I) — to 
pay debts and funeral expenses. Accordingly, by deed of 6 March 1714/15, 
Samuel Boush (I) sold that part of the Porten tract which was on the west 
side of the main road to his own father, Maximilian Boush. This would be 
bounded in modern terms roughly by Bute Street, Church Street, City Hall 
Avenue and Boush Street. Exactly six months later, on 14 September 1715, 
this same tract (said to contain 87 acres) was deeded by Maximilian Boush 
to his son, Samuel Boush (I).'*' Obviously this device was resorted to be- 
cause Boush wished to purchase the land and keep it in the family, but could 
not legally purchase it from himself as executor for another. Be that as it 
may, this valuable piece of property in the heart of what was to become the 
Borough, was soon laid out in streets and lots, some of which were sold and 
some of which remained in the Boush family for several generations. 

The rest of the Porten lands were left to Daniel's only son, Cradick, who 
evidently did not live long, for we soon learn of their being disposed of 
by William Porten, "surviving brother to Daniel Porten." On 14 March 
1720/21, William Porten (II) sold to Anthony Waike that part of the 
1690 patent lying east, of the main road, together with his father's original 
home site (48)." This tract would be bounded very roughly, m modern 
terms, by Church Street, Bute Street (extended, east of Church), Tidewater 
Drive and East Main Street. It was then described as being "l40 acres of 
woodland and pasture." As in the case of the Boush property, this tract 
was much later laid out in streets and lots, and much of it remained in the 
Walke family for several generations. 

Upon becoming seat of the County Court, and as overseas trade in- 
creased, Norfolk Town saw itself called upon to provide entertainment in 
the form of food, drink and lodging for an increasing transient population 
of county folk come to market and court, and of sea captains, mariners, 
traders and all such as had business in town. It was natural, therefore, that 
quite a few ordinaries or taverns came into existence in the late seventeenth 
or early eighteenth century. The first probable tavernkeeper in Norfolk Town 
may have been John Redwood, who, in 1693, received the grant of a site 
(47) on the Main Street. We make this surmise because of the fact that, 
in 1703, one John Redwood was named gaoler and caretaker of the newly- 
built Capitol in Williamsburg, and at the same time obtained possession 

* In older usage, this meant also step-father ; such was here the case, Boush having married 
Porten's widowed mother. 


of a town lot there; a short time hiter he was operating Redwood's Ordinary, 
and he continued there until 1708. The only other knowledge we have of 
him in Norfolk is when, under the name of John Pierce, he sold his site (47) 
in 1719 as listed above. In another deed about this time (1716), he was 
culled "John Perse alias Redwood; " it is not clear why he changed his name.^* 
The tavern keepers were well regulated as to what they could charge for 
their serv'ices. Here is a price-list of 1714, as decided on by the County Court: 

Rum 6s. per gal. 

Punch "if made good" l6d. per qt. 

Cider 1 2d. per. gal. 

Small beer* '^Vz^- P^^ g^'- 

Madeira llYjd. per qt. 

Milk Punch 7l/2d. per gal. 

Claret 3s. 3l^d. per qt. 

Diet 3%d. per meal 

Housing and "foderadge" 6d. per day 

Corn and Oats 6d. per gal. 

There was also regulation as to the measures used in the taverns, and one 
of the first occasions on which we meet all the tavernkeepers in Norfolk 
Town was when, in 1717, all were before the Court for giving false measure, 
an accusation which they were able to disprove.^' In this list of eight tavern- 
keepers were John Loftland, who had had a town lot (35) since 1710, and 
Peter Malbone, who had been here (6) since 1712; another, Mrs. Ann 
Coverley, because of a connection (later to be noted) with Samuel Smith, 
may have had her tavern on one of his lots (5, 36) next door respectively 
to Malbone and Loftland. Of the other five — Thomas Cretcher, John Gay, 
Richard Josslin, Grace Powell, Thomas Walker — very little is known, exxept 
that Josslin's was the scene of an exuberant gathering in 1716, which ended 
in a tragic accident. 

On that CKcasion, a convivial group — Samuel Rogers, Nathaniel Newton, 
James Hustings and Henry Jenkins — were gathered round a bowl of San- 
garee.* In came William Finiken, a jolly soul, dancer of jigs and player 
of cards, who was willing to join in the fun. After several jigs to the strains 
of a fiddle played by one of the group, Finiken and Rogers turned to a 
game of cards called "All fours," or High, Low, Jack and the Game," 
hereabouts now better known simply as "setback." They then engaged in 
some scuffling and rough horseplay, in the course of which Finiken was 
rendered unconscious by a fall and blow on the head. Tlie next morning he 
was dead.'"' 

* A beverage of lesser alcoholic content; cf, kleyti bier (small beer) as opposed to goeJ bier 
(good or strong beer), so called by our Dutch neighbors to the North. 

* Sangria (Spanish), a beverage compounded of wine and spices. (Webster) 


It is not inappropriate now to turn to further details on the Parish 
Church of Norfolk Town. At some undetermined time, between 1703 and 
1708, Parson Rudd was succeeded by the Reverend Roger Kelsall. A young 
man by this rather unusual name is said to have been expelled from Jesus 
College (Cambridge) on 4 March 1698/9 for having joined the Quakers' 
Assembly there. If this is the same one, he must have given very substantial 
evidence of "re-conversion" to have been received back into the fold, when 
we consider the attitude toward Quakers at that time. Parson Kelsall died in 
Norfolk in February, 1708/09; his will showed he owned considerable prop- 
erty in England, and named his father. Reverend Roger Kelsall the elder. 
The former non-conformist connections of the younger Kelsall may explain 
why a young man of property and son of an Anglican minister had accepted 
a charge out in the colonies instead of trying to obtain a more comfortable 
living at home. Reverend Mr. Kelsall's will tells us he left a widow and 
a son, John.*^ 

Kelsall was succeeded by Reverend James McMoran, who was assigned 
to Elizabeth River Parish by Governor Spotswood in 1710.^^ He died here 
in 1714 (as per will proved in December) leaving no family; his heirs were 
a couple named John and Elizabeth Nabb, of Antrim in the North of 
Ireland. In 1720 Reverend James Falconer came from Northampton County, 
his hrst colonial charge, where he had been since early 1719. Mr. Falconer did 
not remain here long, in fact, he is said to have been in Elizabeth City before 
the end of 1720. It is possible he could have alternated between Norfolk and 
Hampton from 1720 to 1724 — the length of his stay in Hampton — but this 
is not known to be so.^" 

It was at this time that the Church in Norfolk acquired additional 
communion silver. A chalice and paten were donated by Robert Tucker, 
a prominent merchant, both of which bear the date-letter for 1722-23.'^ The 
chalice was engraved as follows: 

The Gift of M^ Rob'. Tucker to y": Parrish Church 
of Norfolk Towne, Aprill y-: 3: 1722 

These, with the Boush chalice previously mentioned, are on display at the 
Norfolk Museum; in the illustration here shown, the Boush chalice is on the 
left, and it will be noted the Tucker chalice has its pedestal or base slightly 
bent. All three pieces bear the donors' coats-of-arms. 

The Reverend John Garzia* came next to Elizabeth River Parish, ar- 
riving in 1724 for a sojourn of about three years. He later went as a mis- 
sionary to North Carolina for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel 
in Foreign Parts. We judge from his name he was of Spanish extraction, an 
unusual nationality for an Anglican minister. In fact, the Reverend George 

* More correctly, Garcia. 



Whitefield, an early Wesleyan visitor to these parts, wrote the Bishop of 
Oxford much later (1741): "Mr. Garzia can scarce speak EngHsh."" 

The next minister to serve here was the Reverend John** Marsden, who 
apparently went to Lynnhaven Parish in 1727 on the recommendation of 
Governor Gooch. That he officiated in Norfolk Town also is apparent from 
William Byrd's account of his visit — to be related later in more detail — 

(Courtesy Norfolk Museum) 

when on the way to begin his survey of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary. 
On 3 March 1727/8, Colonel Byrd wrote at Norfolk: "This being Sunday 
we were edify'd at Church by Mr. Marston [J/V} with a good sermon. People 
could not attend their devotion for staring at us, just as if we had come from 
China or Japan." Byrd said the parson was "a painful [painstaking] apostle," 
as will be noted later, but Marsden's sojourn proved more painful than 
painstaking for his parishioners, for before the middle of 1729 the Bishop 
of London was informed by both Governor Gooch and Reverend James Blair 
(the Bishop's Commissary*) that Marsden had suddenly departed Virginia, 
leaving over £400 worth of debts. ^- 

** Bishop Meade called him Richard. 

* Spiritual representative: he exercised no episcopal functions, the latter being in Virginia, 
the Governor's prerogative. 


About the same time Parson Marsden was leaving precipitately, his 
successor arrived — about July or August, 1729, according to a letter from 
Mr. Commissary Blair to the Bishop of London. This was the Reverend 
Moses Robertson who very likely came to Norfolk Town and Elizabeth 
River Parish as his first charge, although we have no positive knowledge of 
his being here until 1734/5, as will appear below. Parson Robertson re- 
mained here until after Norfolk Town became a Borough, as will be related 
in the next chapter.'"' 

The Glebe, which had been granted in 1686, was sold by the Parish 
Vestry on 16 January 1734/5 to Samuel Smith, merchant, whom we have 
met before.^^ The tract was then said to contain 86 acres as opposed to the 
100 which it was supposed to be in 1686; this was caused by the discrepancy 
of overlapping boundaries, as previously noted. We learn from this deed 
that Smith owned another tract — quaintly called "Smith's Other Land" — 
adjoining the Old Glebe and extending north of present Bute Street and 
east to the Main Road (Church Street). The two tracts reached, therefore, 
from the Atlantic City bridge to Church Street, including the area west 
of Boush Street to the river and north of Bute Street to the former 
Glebe Creek, then called Smith's Creek; only part of this creek remains 
unfilled, between Ghent Bridge and the Museum. The deed stated the 
Glebe had been surveyed on 10 November 1710, and a plan then made, 
by Major Lemuel Newton. The grantors listed give us, for the first time, 
a complete list of the ruling body of Elizabeth River Parish as was men- 
tioned in Chapter XI. 

The County Court House, built between 1691 and 1694 as previously 
noted, was replaced by a new one after serving for nearly forty years. The 
new Court House was provided for in a court order of 19 April 1726, and 
was presumably built shortly threafter.^^ Like the first one, it was of brick 
though slightly shorter in length and higher in pitch: 32' by 20' by 13' pitch 
to the eaves. The court room was entered by double doors and outside steps, 
had an arched ceiling, seats for the Justices and two bars; like the old 
building, there was a smaller room in the rear with an upper room over it, 
the latter with two dormer windows. There was an oval window in the 
gable over the main entrance, which — it is deduced from later records — 
faced east, the building being at the west side of the lot on the Main 
Street. The county jail (provided for in the Court Order of 1689) was on 
the east side of the Court House lot; it was mentioned as being in use in 
1717. A whipping post was also mentioned in 1719, probably near the stocks 
(previously referred to) between Court House and jail. A ducking stool was 
ordered to be built "good and substantial" at the end of Boush's wharf in 
the upper end of town in 1716;°" this was probably on the river side of the 
Boush lot (28), where the foot of Church Street now is. A court cryer, 


Sampson Powers, was employed as early as 1697 and is known from later 
evidence (1709/10) to have owned a lot (part of 4l) on the Back Street 
at the mouth of Dun-in-the-Mire Creek ;^' this creek came to be known as 
Newton Creek soon after 1690, on account of the tract owned by the first 
George Newton east of Church Street between the corners of Nicholson and 
Bute Streets. Although the creek has practically disappeared, Newton Creek 
Boulevard over part of its bed was shown on city maps as late as 1951; this 
was before Tidewater Drive was cut through there. 

Having told of the establishment of ecclesiastical and judicial institutions 
in Norfolk Town, we should now turn to education. Reference was made 
above to the fact that a lot (51) was reserved for such purpose; an Act of 
Assembly of much later date (1752) reads in part as follows: ". . . at the 
time of the laying out of the aforesaid town [of Norfolk], a lot or parcel 
of land was laid off and set apart for the use of a school . . ."''* It was no 
coincidence that this lot was directly across the street from the site chosen 
at the same time as a churchyard. From the very beginning of formally or- 
ganized education in our Western culture, it was under the supervision of 
the Church; the most ancient European universities were solely Schools of 
Theology in their beginnings. Our own College of William and Mary was 
chartered and established as well for the "breeding of good ministers" as 
for the education of youth, and all its presidents and masters (professors) 
during the Colonial period were ordained ministers of the Church of England. 
Hence it was a perfectly normal and natural thing, when Norfolk Town 
was laid out in 1680-81, to locate churchyard and school lot close together. 
There has been found no hint in the records that anything further was 
done about organizing a school for nearly a half-century. On 13 November 
1728, there was recorded a feoffee grant to Samuel Boush (II), Samuel 
Smith and Nathaniel Newton, conveying to them as trustees the lot previ- 
ously set aside as a school lot.'''' While this deed was essentially a transfer 
of ownership, it contained certain unusual provisions which resemble those 
of a charter. The feoffees (then Col. Samuel Boush and Col. George Newton) 
in effect appointed three trustees for the school in Norfolk Town, provided 
that a vacancy in their number could be filled by the survivers, and as- 
signed to them the duty of erecting a schoolhouse and employing a school- 
master. To be exact, the lot conveyed to the three gentlemen above mentioned, 
was described as being "for the proper use of the Inhabitance [sic] in 
Norfolk Town for the erecting a schoolhouse . . . and for the uses of any 
schoolmaster or masters whom [they] shall imploy." It would seem from 
the above that feoffees had gone beyond their originally intended functions, 
which were simply the holding and granting of town land. In any case, it 
is clear from the wording of the 1728 grant that no schoolhouse had yet been 
built and no master engaged, nor is there evidence of such organization 


until some time after 1736, as will be told in the next chapter. If there 
were any scholastic activity at all in Norfolk Town between 1680 and 1736, 
it would have of necessity been carried on by the parish minister — in view 
of his educational qualifications — and in the parish church in view of the 
close connection between church and school, both physical and otherwise.* 
The school lot was 270.2' by 83' and its northeast boundary was an extension 
of the corresponding line of the churchyard across the street; the Norfolk 
City historical marker on the southwest wall of the churchyard, indicating the 
"Northern Limit of Old Norfolk," should therefore be at the other end of 
the yard, for it is obvious both churchyard and school lot were in town. 

Another great institution had its local beginning in Norfolk Town, and 
that was the Masonic fraternity. The claim has been made by some that the 
Norfolk lodge was the first constituted in the American Colonies, but it must 
be admitted that such a statement is impossible to prove; it is unquestionably 
true, however, that it was the first in the Colony and Dominion of Virginia. 
The beginnings of Freemasonry in the Colonies are clothed in mystery for 
many reasons; the principal ones are the very secret nature of the fraternity 
itself and the unfortunate loss of original documents and other records during 
the Revolutionary conflict. There has been also a certain amount of rivalry 
among claimants for the honor of being "first," which has added to the 
confusion. In addition to the above considerations, it is difiiailt for an 
outsider and impartial "observer to obtain all the facts necessary for a con- 
clusion, though it must be said in all fairness that the members of the 
Fraternity, both here and abroad, have been most generous in making 
available such data as can be published with propriety. With these limita- 
tions we shall proceed to tell the story of the Masonic Lodge in Norfolk 

It is a generally accepted fact that individual members of the Fraternity 
had migrated to the American Colonies from late seventeenth century on, 
and probably earlier. Prior to the establishment of the Grand Lodge of 
England (1717), such individuals were accustomed to join themselves to- 
gether in independent lodges, and even after the Grand Lodge was founded, 
they continued so to set themselves up both independently and by warrant 
(from another lodge) and by constitution (from the Grand Lodge). It is 
evident from later events that there were Masons in Norfolk Town early 
in the eighteenth century, but it is not likely that they obtained a warrant 
for establishment as early as 1729, as has been claimed. When the Grand 
Lodge of Virginia was formed much later (1775) and seniority of its 
component member lodges was established (1786), the Norfolk Lodge was 
placed at the top of the list and the date of 22 December 1733 assigned as 

* The story of the school as told here is the beginning of Norfolk Academy, still in operation, 
a name which it did not bear until after the Revolution. 


the date of its founding.*" We may be sure the representatives of the Norfolk 
Lodge had produced incontrovertible documentary evidence and that the 
representatives of the other Virginia lodges examined such evidence very 
carefully. Unfortunately, the evidence has either disappeared or is now re- 
posing in a place where it is not visible to the uninitiated; we would lean 
toward the former explanation, for we see no reason for such information 
to be kept secret. This early lodge probably called itself, in the usage of that 
day, "The Society of Free Masons of Norfolk Town in Virginia;" it had 
no meeting place of its own until much later, and we do not even know 
the names of any of its early officers or members. We may be sure, however, 
that the names of Newton, Boush, Tucker and Taylor must have figured 
prominently on its rolls.* 

In the last list of feoffee grants given above, it was noted that a town 
lot was conveyed to Samuel Boush (II) in 1729. This was for the half lot 
(31) on the south side of the east end of the Main Street, and was the last 
site granted by the feoffees.** We should pause at this point to list all those 
who filled the office. They always acted in pairs, were appointed for life, 
and the following list gives the date of the iirst and last grant on which 
the name of each pair appeared: 

Lt. Col. Anthony Lawson 16 August 1682 — 15 January 1695/6 

Capt. William Robinson (d. 1696) 

Lt. Col. Anthony Lawson 15 January 1696/7^ — l6 July 1697 

Mr. William Heslett, Surveyor (d. 1697) 

Lt. Col. Anthony Lawson 16 November 1697 — 15 July 1698 

(d. 1701) 
Capt.* Samuel Boush (I) 

Major* Samuel Boush (I) 17 February 1701/2 — 20 July 1711 

Mr. James Wilson (d. 1716) 

Col.* Samuel Boush (I) 17 August 1716 — 24 August 1729 

Col. George Newton (11)''^ 

It might be noted in passing that one site (31 A) was never taken and 
remained public land; it probably became the site of the Borough Court 
House, as will be later related. 

With all the town lots taken, more land was necessary to satisfy the 
continuing demand for building sites. Hence, Col. Samuel Boush began to 
divide his land into lots and sold some of them between 1728 and 1732; 
this might be called Norfolk's first suburban development, since these lots 
were not within the town boundary. A plat of this part of Boush's land has 

* Such was the beginning of Norfolk Lodge No. 1, A.F.&A.M., which will be continued in 
the next chapter. 

** There was one other feoffee grant later (17-il), but it did not cover a lot. This is to be 
related in next chapter on the Borough of Norfolk. 

* These indicate the successive ranks held by Boush in the Colonel Militia, as will later appear. 



been prepared, showing that the lots he laid off were on the northwest side 
of the main road (Church Street) and extended northeasterly from the 
churchyard to a point a little beyond the Town Bridge (present corner of 

Charlotte Street). The Boush lots have been numbered from (i) through 
(xv) in order to distinguish them from the town lots, and are listed here 





Walter Clothier 

13 April 1728 


Capt. John Phillips, mariner 

14 April 1728 


John Scott, shoemaker 

15 April 1728 


John Guy 

16 April 1728 


Philip Dison, shipwright 

16 April 1728 


John Munds, weaver 

17 April 1728 


Edward Portlock 

16 May 1728 


George Tucker 

16 May 1728 


James Moore, mariner 

18 June 1728 


William Ives, joiner 

16 July 1728 


Edward Pugh 

24 July 1728 


John Munds 

25 July 1728 


Henry Gristock 

14 July 1729 

Vi. 23 






John Roberts 

21 May 1730 


Margaret Novcutt 

19 May 1731 


Edmund Jenkins 

17 August 1732«: 

All the above are represented by deeds except the one to George Tucker, 
and he was mentioned in Munds' (i) and Portlock's (iii) deeds. All were 
executed by Col. Samuel Boush except that to Edward Pugh, whose lot was 
sold to him by John Munds (viii) ; the latter purchased another lot (i) 
almost immediately. The lots belonging to Scott (xi) and Ives (xii) were 
described as being "by the bridge side called the Town Bridge." This, we 
feel sure, was the bridge built by Captain Knott in 1691; the locality was 
still called "Town Bridge" until late nineteenth century. In order to locate 
these lots approximately in modern terms, let it be noted that Market Street 
(formerly called Wolfe) was cut through between (i) and (ii) and took 
a large part of (ii), that Freemason Street came between (v) and (vi) and 
took a large portion of the latter, and that Charlotte Street was laid out 
between (xi) and (xii) almost exactly where the bridge was. 

There are a few other miscellaneous items to be added. Mention was 
made earlier of the "publique spring" in 1695/6, the town's only supply of 
drinking water at first. The waters of the river were used for washing 
clothes, and at about the same time, there was mentioned a "place appointed 
for the public laving" in the eastern end of town. This was probably the 
eastern wharf or public landing at the foot of the east end of the Main 
Street.*^ Previous mention was also made of the two ferries from Norfolk 
Town, one to what was later Portsmouth and the other to present West 
Norfolk; these two ferries were both being run in 1715 by Major Samuel 
Boush (I) at a compensation of 3000 pounds of tobacco per annum.''* In 
May, 1730, the Assembly appointed certain places for public warehouses, one 
of which was "at Norfolk Town upon the fort land."*^ This is the first 
mention of this site (17) by that name since the town was established, and 
the first knowledge we have of a warehouse built here on public land; it 
will be recalled that several private warehouses had been built here before 
1691. The fire problem was one which was early recognized as a serious 
one, and in May, 1732, the Assembly passed "An Act for Pulling Down 
Wooden Chimneys in the Towns of Southampton [Hampton] and Norfolk, 
and to prevent the building of others for the future."*" 

As has been done in previous chapters, it is intended here to give brief 
sketches of some of the more prominent names which became established 
early in Norfolk Town. In these small isolated communities, the small 
number of inhabitants made it almost inevitable that there be intermarriage 
between persons connected more or less remotely by blood or marriage; 
this in turn has brought about some rather complicated family relationships, 


as we Iiave noticed before. One of the most involved of such connections is 
the Porten-Boush-Newton-Sayer relationship, which was brought about by 
the fact that two young ladies — sisters — were each twice married; as a result, 
a large number of people in both Norfolk and Princess Anne Counties, 
who can trace their genealogy back beyond the year 1700, are more or less 
closely connected. These two ladies were Frances and Alice Mason; they 
have been earlier shown to be daughters to Lemuel and Anne Seawell Mason, 
and granddaughters of Francis Mason and Henry Seawell.*' 

This story should be told from its logical beginning which is with 
William Porten. County Clerk since 1668/9 and a resident of Elizabeth River 
Parish, Porten was himself married twice; his first wife, Sarali, was the 
widow Godfrey when he married her. This information is obtained from a 
deed of gift Porten made to his wife and her children, and from Sarah 
Porten's will; these two documents w^ere written within five days of each 
other in September, 1675, and both recorded the same day, 15 August 1678, 
just after her death.** From them we learn that her five heirs were sons 
Matthew and John Godfrey (both later citizens of Norfolk Town), son 
Warren Godfrey, and daughters Sarah Malbone and Ann Egerton. We 
surmise Sarah was wife of Peter Malbone (later of Norfolk Town) and 
Ann was wife of Charles Egerton,* who, with Matthew Godfrey, witnessed 
the deed of gift. Porten did not long remain a widower, but married Alice 
Mason with whom he had five children before his death in 1692/3. He 
established his residence in Norfolk Town shortly after its founding, pos- 
sibly as early as 1682, certainly by 1687, when he obtained the home site 
(48) which was to remain in the family until 1721. We first learn of his 
death by a record of 17 March 1692/3 entitled "An Account of what Records 
and other Papers were found in the Clerk's office of this County ... by us 
underwritten [the subscribers] . . . left in the custody of Malachi Thruston 
now Clerk."*® This is an inventory of the record books and is too long to 
give here in detail, but identifies clearly Books A, B. C, D, E, 4, 5, Order 
Book (1675-1686), some bundles of papers (still today uncatalogued), a 
statute book, and Dalton's Justice of the Peace. The account was signed by 
Lawson and Robinson, feoffees, with the statement that it was done by Court 
order; which, as in the case of the school above mentioned, leads us to 
believe the feoffees exercised administrative functions over and above their 
trustee duties. Two months later (18 May 1693) was recorded a petition 
of Mrs. Alice Porten, widow, reciting the facts that her husband had died 
suddenly after a short illness, that his pains and afflictions had been so violent 
he was incapable of making or directing the making of a will, and requesting 
that certain furniture and household effects be allowed her before division 

* Charles Egerton, the elder, had died in 1669. (See Macintosh, p. 29.) 


of the estate among herself and five children.'" Only three of the latter are 
important to this story: Daniel (d. 1714), William, who was heir to Daniel, 
and Anne, who was married to Capt. Richard Furlong (died before Daniel) 
and had William and Mary Furlong.'^^ 

As was customary in those days, the widow did not wait long before 
marrying again; in the will of her father, written on 17 June 1693'" and 
mentioned in a previous chapter, she was named as "Alice wife of Samuel 
Boush and widow of William Porten." Her new husband, who was to leave 
his name indelibly inscribed on many pages of Norfolk's history, was from 
Lynnhaven Parish and was son of Col. Maximilian Boush (d. 1728), Queen's 
Attorney in the famous Grace Sherwood witchcraft trials around 1705; his 
(Samuel's) mother was Sarah Woodhouse, as previously noted. "^ He prob- 
ably resided in the Porten house upon his marriage, but soon (15 January 
1695/6) purchased a lot of his own (49) on the northeast corner of the 
road out of town and the Main Street; there his house was built and re- 
mained in the family for many generations. Samuel Boush (I) was Justice, 
Burgess, probably Churchwarden and "Vestryman, and successively Captain, 
Major and Colonel of Colonial Militia. He did not die until after the 
Borough charter was granted 15 September 1736, but his two wills* were 
both written before that date (1733 and 1735): they show he had three 
children, Samuel (H), John and Anne, and special mention was made of a 
grandson, Samuel (HI), to whom most of his property descended.'* Major 
Samuel Boush (II) was married to Frances, daughter of Charles Sayer (I) 
and had Samuel (III), Arthur, Nathaniel, Charles Sayer, Goodrich, Mar- 
garet (Peggy) and Mary (Molly).'"' The two latter were witnesses to their 
grandfather's will of 1733, appearing on that document as Mary Miller and 
Margaret Haire; Henry Miller, Mary's husband, was also a witness. Mar- 
garet's husband was John Haire, Sheriff of Norfolk County in 1726/7."® 
The rest of the Boush story belongs in the next chapter. 

The other Mason daughter was Frances, possibly older than Alice, since 
she married and had three sons before her husband's death in 1694/5. 
He was George Newton, a resident of Elizabeth River Parish — probably in 
the Mason's Creek-Willoughby's Point area — was named as one of four 
overseers in the will of Mrs. Sarah Willoughby in 1673, and was a Justice 
in 1683. '^ He was first noted as having a lot (26) in Norfolk Town in 
August, 1694, and apparently soon died intestate, certainly before 15 January 
1694/5. Before he died he had purchased one of Peter Smith's lots (24) 
but failed to get a deed for it; this fact was explained in Smith's deed of 
16 July 1695 for the lot: "to Mrs. Frances Newton widow and administratrix 
of the said George Newton . . . for the use and benefit of his son George 

■ This is a curious story to be related in the next chapter. 


Newton [II} if he be still living . . ."'** This last proviso is a curious one 
and needs some explanation; we believe it signifies George Newton (II) 
had been sent to school in England like young Thomas Wiiloughby and 
young Henry Seawell, and this clause in the deed was a rather fatalistic 
recognition of the hazards of trans-oceanic travel. At any rate, he was back 
in February, 1701/2, when he received a feoffee grant for this lot (24).'® 
It was on the east side of what is now Commercial Place and extended 
from the Main Street down to the river; even until the end of last century 
this property was still known as Newton's Row. George Newton (II) had 
t^vo brothers previously mentioned: Major Lemuel Newton, a surveyor 
(1710), and Nathaniel Newton, one of the first school trustees (1728); 
both were residents of Norfolk Town. 

Col. Lemuel Mason's will (as above noted) was written on 17 June 
1695, and named his daughter 'Frances wife of George Newton." This must 
be a slip for "widow," for we know Newton died before this. The widow 
Newton probably married within a short space of time; her second husband 
was Charles Sayer of Princess Anne County, and they had two children: 
Charles Sayer (11), clerk of the court from 1716 to 1740, and Frances, who 
married Thomas Lawson.* 

The reader can now appreciate the complicated connection. For, if we 
have the links joined correctly, the following results are to be noted: Matthew 
and John Godfrey were brothers-in-law of Peter Malbone; both Godfreys 
and their sister, Sarah Malbone, were step-children of William Porten and 
half-brothers and sisters of Daniel Porten, William Porten (II) and Anne 
Furlong; the last three named were similiarly related in the half blood to 
Samuel Boush (II), John Boush and Anne Boush; Daniel Porten, William 
Porten (II), Ann Furlong, Samuel Boush II, John Boush and Anne Boush 
were first cousins to George Newton (II), Lemuel Newton, Nathaniel 
Newton, Charles Sayer (II), and Frances Sayer Lawson; and finally, all — 
through their mutual Mason ancestry — were connected with Seawells, Thela- 
balls, Langleys and Wishards. 

Another word about the Godfreys: John died in 1710 and Matthew died 
in 1717.^" The latter had no sons, but John Godfrey had a son Matthew, 
and Warren Godfrey (the brother who did not live in Norfolk Town) had 
two sons, Matthew and Arthur. John Godfrey also had two daughters, Anne 
and Amy, who inherited his town lots (42). Anne married Captain Nathaniel 
Tatem, and Amy married Captain John Hutchings, who came from Bermuda. 
The Back Street, which touched the Godfrey lot, soon came to be known 
as Bermuda Street, traditionally because Captain Hutchings always had 

* It is barely possible Charles and Frances may have been children by a former marriage; 
otherwise, Charles Sayer (II) became County clerk at the tender age of twenty. (See Kellam, 
pp. 199, 223-4.) 


Bermudian vessels lying at his wharf before his lot.*' It is clear from the 
above that Hutchings acquired the lot through his marriage. Going back 
to the elder Matthew Godfrey, he left some town property to his brother 
Warren's sons, Matthew and Arthur, and to his son-in-law, James Wilson. 


The Tucker brothers, Robert and John, arrived in Norfolk Town from 
the Barbadoes before 1715. The former was married before coming here 
to Frances Courtney; they had two sons, Robert (II) and John and a 
daughter, Courtney, one or two of whom may have been born in the 
Barbadoes. **- Of the three only Robert Tucker (II) left known descendants. 
John Tucker, brother of the first Robert, did not marry until arrival in 
Norfolk, and probably not before 1722. His wife was Frances Gristock and 
that was the year her father, Henry Gristock, bought a lot (45) in Norfolk 
Town. The Tucker brothers first acquired the younger William Porten's 
site (21) in 1715 and 1720, then John Tucker probably moved in with his 
father-in-law (who had no sons) and Robert Tucker (I) acquired the lot 
(44) immediately adjoining. After this, it is assumed the first location was 
devoted entirely to stores, warehouses, wharves and their mercantile ac- 
tivities. It will be recalled that Robert Tucker gave the chalice and paten 
to the Parish Church in 1722; he died shortly thereafter, and John Tucker 
survived him until 1736. Dr. Wertenbaker chose the two Tuckers as exem- 
plifying the wealthy merchant class which developed in Norfolk in early 
eighteenth century by listing in detail their material possessions. The inventory 
of the Robert Tucker estate in 1723 (after his death) showed the following 
personal and household efl^ects: in entry hall and parlor, 12 leather bottom 


chairs, 3 tables, couch, clock, mirror, chest of drawers, rugs, pictures, fire 
tongs, shovel, bellows and fender; in three bedchambers, beds, cane chairs, 
chests of drawers, tables, trunks, pictures, tongs, shovels; in the kitchen, 
snuffers, copper pot, coffee pot, mortar and pestle, warming pan, spits, drip 
pans, skimmers, ladles, gridirons, iron pots, pot hooks, racks, brass kettles, 
iron dogs (andirons), and the following pewter ware: 24 dishes, three dozen 
plates, 13 soup plates, 6 basins, porringer, cheese dish, chafing dishes, etc. 
In addition to the above, there were 57 pieces of silver plate, nearly £7000 
in Virginia currency, 23 slaves, one brigantine, three sloops and three "flats" 
(barges?). The inventory of John Tucker's estate in 1736, on the other hand, 
gives a clear idea of the merchandise available for purchase by the towns- 
people: woollens, sheetings, silk stockings, thread, tape, ribbon, lace, razors, 
lancets, combs, buckles. Bibles, primers, writing paper, pewter dishes, basins 
and plates, hatchets, chisels, hammers, locks, saws, hour glasses, kettles, brass 
compasses, Madeira wine to the value of £690, rum £850, and sugar £240. 
He also owned three sloops, one shallop and six slaves; his liquid assets 
were £2500 in cash and 88 ounces 13 pennyweight of gold wedges.* The 
John Tucker inventory contained an item of £2000 in "wares at Mr. Mason's 
store." This probably referred to George Mason, brother of Mrs. Boush and 
Mrs. Newton, whose place was almost next door (23).*^ 

Malachi Thruston,** who has been mentioned before, deserves some 
special notice here. He was grandson of Malachias Thruston of "Wellington, 
Somerset, and son of John Thruston (1606-1675) of Bristol, county town 
of Somerset.** He lived first in Lynnhaven Parish, being a Justice of Lower 
Norfolk in 1683, and a Justice of the first Princess Anne County Court 
in 1691. He first acquired a town lot (34) in 1692, and in 1694 obtained 
the six lots (12) where his residence was established. He succeeded William 
Porten as Clerk of the Court in March, 1692/3, and being a surveyor by 
trade, was, in 1694/5, appointed "chiefe and head surveyor of the Roads in 
Tanner's Creek precincts" in place of Anthony Lawson, removed to Little 
Creek.'*' Malachi Thruston died in November, 1699, leaving his home place 
divided between two sons: John Thruston got the half next to what he had 
inherited from Capt. Knott (part of 11) and Malachi Thruston (II) got 
the other half next to Tabor's (13). John's share contained the dwelling 
house, "shopp house," other houses, and a wharf on the Back Creek; he 
also inherited "my Signett Ring with my Coat-of-Arms." John Thruston was 
mentioned in the will of William Heslett (d. 1697) — surveyor and feoffee — - 
to receive the bequest of his surveying instruments. He died in 1709, his 
will naming as heirs his wife, mother and brother, Malachi (II). Malachi 
Thruston (I) made a deposition in 1698 that he was "aged 62 yeares or 

* Ingots were sometimes cast in this shape as well as in bars (Webster). 

** This name was originally Tristan, and is not to be confused with Thurston. 



thereabouts," hence was born about 1636; his brother, Edward Thruston 
was born in 1638, was in Virginia — but not permanently — at Martin's 
Hundred in 1666, and came here to stay in January, 1716/7, when he 
acquired a town lot (15) at the west end of the Main Street; he also owned 
land in Princess Anne County.*'*' 






Malachi Thruston was succeeded as Clerk of the County Court at his 
death by Lemuel Wilson, who held the office until 1718. This period saw 
John Ferebee (the surveyor) and Thomas Butt serving successively as deputy 
clerks, and it is apparent from what follows that the court records were 
removed from town at that time.*^ The following notation is to be seen on 
the front fly leaf of an old record book: "Solomon Wilson sworne the 22d 
day of November 1718 Clericus Curiae [Clerk of the Court}." Six months 
later — 15 May 1719 — there was the following minute entry: "Upon motion 
of Samuel Boush it is by this Court ordered that the Clerk do bring his 
records and office to town as soon as convenient may be."^* It is no co- 
incidence that on 15 February 1719/20 Solomon Wilson purchased a lot 
(22) from Captain William Craford on the Market Place almost opposite 
the Court House. It is pointed out that James Wilson (feoffee, 1711-16) 
was bequeathed part of a lot (43) by his father-in-law, Matthew Godfrey; 


Wilson died in 1716 before the Godfrey will was probated (1717), and 
the land went to Solomon Wilson.* 

Norfolk Town had its first member of the medical profession — or what 
then passed for it — early in its history: this was Doctor Thomas Tabor. 
He was a resident of Lower Norfolk County (probably Elizabeth River 
Parish) for some years before settling in town. An early record of him was 
a bond of one William Vaughan, who agreed to pay a debt to "Mr. Thomas 
Tabor, merchant," on demand at his store; this was on 28 June 1687, and 
gives no indication that he was then other than a trader.*® Shortly thereafter, 
on 15 November 1688, there was recorded the following: 

Dr. Thomas Tabor being presented by the Grand Jury for Common Swearing 

& drunkenness it is ordered that hee bee fined according to law.®" 
Here he was given a title, and was apparently no better or worse than others 
of his kind, if we can credit Dr. W. B. Blanton who pictured the Colonial 
practitioner as "fond of ale, horse-racing and cuss-words.""^ Dr. Tabor first 
appeared on the Norfolk scene in 1693 when he purchased the lot (13) 
just granted to Samuel Sizemore. Two years later (1695) he received a 
confirming grant for the Sizemore lot plus the one (14) adjoining to the 
West, and at an undetermined time took up a third lot (16) for which no 
grant was preserved. All these lots were on the north side of the west end 
of the Main Street, west of where Granby now intersects. 

Paper being sometimes a scarce commodity in Colonial times, the reverse 
of a sheet was frequently used after one side had been written on. The 
reverse side of William Vaughan's bill to Tabor was so used and is repro- 
duced here: The sequence or continuity of this writing is difficult to follow, 
though most of the words can be deciphered. It would appear that these 
were some items sold to- — or prescribed for (Rx) — Mr. Matthew Godfrey. 
Thus we recognize "cordial electuary" (medicinal stimulant compounded 
in simple syrup), "phisick" (medicine), and pills. The ingredients which 
went into these items were syrup of salt, roses and gill (ground ivy, a 
medicinal plant), saffron (an aromatic plant used medicinally), barley (used 
medicinally, as in barley water), radix contrayerva (root of Dorstenia Brasi- 
liensis, used to make a tonic stimulant) and syrup of mente (mint, equivalent 
to the modern French spelling menthe') ?- There was also a clay pipe for 
Mr. Godfrey. It is clear from this that Dr. Tabor dealt in "simples" or 
medicinal herbs as well as other merchandise, in addition practicing medicine 
in the limited fashion of his day. He died in January, 1700/1, his will 
naming his wife, Mary, as sole executrix; his three town lots (13, 14, 16) 
were left respectively to his children, John, Thomas and Rosamond. It was 
made clear John was the eldest son and inherited also "mortars, pestles, 

* As was noted in Chapter XI, James, Solomon and Lemuel Wilson were all sons of Col. 
James Wilson (d. 1712). 


steel instruments, stills, seals, weights . . . and anything that may be called 
or doeth belonge to Surgery.""^ Dr. Tabor would have called himself, we 
feel sure, a Surgeon-Apothecary;* he belonged, therefore, to a privileged 
class of practitioners, a kind of subphysician who was in England the usual 
family medical attendant. 

A few years passed before another medical man settled in Norfolk 
Town. In 1708/9, a lot (29) was granted to William Miller, gentleman 
(called Dr. William Miller in another deed), on the southwest side of the 
east end of the Main Street. This was the lot which, as noted, formerly 
belonged to Mary Hodges. In 1713 Dr. Miller had to sue Col. Anthony 
Walke for £6 10s "for curing a negro's leg" and for medicines furnished 
Walke's sick child. Col. Walke objected to paying the doctor, stating that 
"to his judgment and appearance, the said negro's leg was never cured nor 
made whole. " In the end, the Court ordered him to pay £1 10s "for visits, 
physick, and attendance."''* Dr. Miller died in 1727, being survived by his 
wife and a son, Robert Miller.^^ The historian, Robert Beverley, made some 
interesting reflections in 1703 concerning the medical profession in Virginia: 

They have the Happiness to have very few Doctors, and those such as make 
use only of simple Remedies, of which their Woods afford great Pient)'. And 
indeed, their Distempers are not many, and their Cures are so generally known, 
that there is not Mystery enough to make a Trade of Physick there, as the 
Learned do in other Countries, to the great Oppression of Mankind.^* 

It should be noted in passing that there were others of this profession 
here quite early: Pharaoh Flinton, "surgion," of Elizabeth City, who arrived 
in 1612; Jonathon Langwood, "chirurgion," in Lower Norfolk (Western 
Branch area) in 1638, and Dr. James Speer in Lynnhaven Parish in 1680.'^ 

Another prominent merchant of Norfolk Town was John Ellegood. 
He was churchwarden in 173-4/5 (see above) and had acquired the lots 
of George Mason (23) and Solomon Wilson (22), on the latter of which 
was his residence. In connection with his mercantile activities, he owned a 
sea sloop, and in his store were dry goods, rum, and other merchandise. 
His three sons were William, Mason and Jacob Ellegood.** 

First of a family which is still well known here was John Taylor, who 
carried on a mercantile business with his brother, Archibald Taylor. They 
came here prior to 1736 from the parish of Fintrie, in the county of 
Stirling, which is just north of Glasgow and known chiefly because of 
Bannockburn and Loch Lomand. John Taylor lived on the site (18) formerly 
owned by Thomas Hodges, on the Main Street, where the United States 

* Surgeon, one who treats diseases or disorders by manual operation ; apothecary, one who 
prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medicinal purposes. (Webster.) It must be remembered 
that, at the time of which we are writing, the surgeon-apothecary was in the same class with the 
surgeon dentist and surgeon barber, all being concerned with manual operation. 


Customs House now stands. His family consisted of his wife, Margaret, and 
two sons, James and John.^^ 

Mention has been made several times above to Samuel Smith, merchant, 
whose land was to play an important part in the development of Norfolk 
Town. He first appeared on the scene in 1708, when he purchased the 
site (19) which had formerly belonged to Richard Hill and his widow, 
later Mrs. Jane Sawcer, which was (we believe) the site of his residence. 
Smith later acquired Lewis Conner's site (5), and the lot (36) first granted 
to Thomas Nash and later owned by the blacksmith, Bartholomew Clarke. 
He was one of the first school trustees in 1728, and in 1734/5 purchased the 
Old Glebe from the Parish Vestry. He then owned all the land west of 
Boush Street and north of Bute Street, and reaching from present Atlantic 
City Bridge to Church Street, as has already been told in detail. He came 
to Norfolk Town from London, where lived his father and elder brother, 
both named John Smith, linen drapers by trade.* He had a cousin, Josiah 
Smith, living in Virginia in 1732 and later to become a prominent citizen 
of Norfolk. According to Col. William Byrd (who visited Norfolk Town 
in 1727/8), "Mr. Sam Smith [was] a plain man with 20000 pounds." 
While Samuel Smith did not die until 1739 (a fact which belongs in the 
next chapter) , we may properly speak here of information contained in 
his will, which was written in 1732. Outside of the former Glebe (left to 
his brother, John, of London) and the tract adjoining the Glebe plus his 
residence (left to his cousin Josiah), he left all his other property — consisting 
of four dwelling houses, kitchens and other out-buildings and the land they 
were on — to "my friend Samuel Smith alias Samuel Coverley." Here is a 
minor — but intriguing — mystery which has not been explained. One of these 
dwellings so left was then occupied by Martha Coverley. Could this have 
been young Samuel's mother or sister? And could young Samuel have been 
adopted by Smith.? The will also provided for his education. Another ques- 
tion: What connection was there between Samuel, Martha and Mrs. Ann 
Coverley, the tavernkeeper ? Possibly Martha or Mrs. Ann Coverley was 
Smith's housekeeper whom Byrd mentioned: in referring to his being enter- 
tained by Smith, Byrd wrote, "He produced his two Nieces whose charms 
were all invisible. These Damsels seemed discontented that their Uncle 
Shewed more distinction to his Housekeeper than to them."^"° It might be 
added that young Samuel soon came to be called "Samuel Smith junior," 
and became a prominent and highly respected citizen, as will appear in 
the next chapter. 

The only eye-witness description of Norfolk Town in the early eighteenth 
century — its religious, economic and social life as well as its appearance — is 

* Sellers of doth. (Webster) 


that written by Col. William Byrd (II) of Westover and briefly referred 
to in the preceding pages. ^"^ Byrd was in charge of the Commission ap- 
pointed to survey the Virginia-North Carolina boundary, and spent a weekend 
ill Norfolk Town in March, 1727/8, while on the way to the coastal point 
of beginning for the boundary. He wrote a detailed account of the expedition 
and his remarks on Norfolk Town are certainly pertinent to this story. 
It was on Friday, 1 March, 1727/8, that Col. Byrd and his party met at 
Major William Craford's plantation (later the site of Portsmouth Town) 
"over against Norfolk Town." They left their heavy gear and most of the 
party, crossing over to Norfolk with personal servants and portmantles 
(Fr. portemaiiteau, a leather hand bag or traveling case). Byrd went to an 
ordinary, probably Malbone's Tavern (6) which was nearest the ferry 
landing. Tliere he met Col. George Newton, who lived just across the 
street (24) and who invited him to his home. Col. Byrd, accompanied by 
his chaplain. Rev. Peter Fontaine, accepted and 

Mrs. Newton provided a clean Supper without any Luxury about 8 a Clock, 
and appeared to be one of the fine ladies of the To\\n, and like a true fine 
Lady to have a great deal of Contempt for her Husband. 

This Mrs. Newton was Aphia Wilson, the mother of Thomas and Wilson 
Newton. On Saturday, 2 March, Col. Samuel Boush — "Old Col°. Boush, " 
as Byrd called him — called on Col. Byrd to offer his assistance in determining 
a route to Currituck. That evening the Commissioners were entertained at 
"an Oyster and a Bowl" by another prominent Norfolkian, Mr. Samuel 
Smith, and we have already told what Byrd said about Smith's worth, his 
nieces and his housekeeper. This entertainment must have consisted of an 
oyster roast and a bowl of fairly strong punch, for Byrd wrote of the 
breaking-up of this party: 

The Parson [Mr. Fontaine} and I returned to our Quarters in good time & 
good Order, but my man Tom broke the Rules of Hospitality by getting ex- 
tremely drunk in a Civil House. 

On Sunday, 3 March, Byrd wrote as follows: 

This being Sunday we were edify d at Church by Mr. Marston [Marsden] 
with a good sermon. People could not attend their devotion for staring at us, 
just as if we had come from China or Japan. ... At night we spent an hour 
with Col". Boush, who stir'd his Old Bones very cheerfully in our Service.* 

* Byrd's two references to Col. Boushs advanced years may give some clue as to his age. 
Byrd himself was 54 at this time (born 1674), so we judge Boush must have been at least in his 
very late sixties; in that case he would have been over 75 when he died in 1736, a very respect- 
able age for a man to attain in that day. 


Byrd's description of Norfolk Town is of sufficient interest to repeat 

Norfolk has most the ayr of a Town of any in Virginia. There were then near 
20 Brigantines and Sloops riding at the Wharves; and oftentimes they have 
more. It has all the advantages of Situation requisite for Trade and Navigation. 
There is a secure Harbour for a good Number of ships of any Burthen. Their 
River divides itself into 3 Several Branches, which are all Navigable. The 
Town is so near the Sea, that its Vessels may sail in and out in a few Hours. 
Their Trade is chiefly to Lumber. The worst of it is, they contribute much 
toward debauching the Country by importing abundance of Rum, which like 
Gin in Great Britain, breaks the Constitution, Vitiates the Morals, and ruins 
the Industry of most of the Poor people of this Country. 

The place is the Mart for most of the Commodities produced in the adja- 
cent ports of North Carolina. They have a pretty deal of Lumber from the 
Borderers on the Dismal,** who make bold with the King's Land there 
abouts without the least ceremony. They not only maintain their Stocks*** 
upon it but get Boards, Shingles, and other Lumber out of it in great Abun- 

The Town is built on a level Spot of Ground upon Elizabeth River, the 
Banks whereof are neither so high as to make the landing of Goods trouble- 
some or so low as to be in Danger of overflowing. The Streets are Straight 
and adorned with Good houses, which Encrease every Day. It is not a town 
of Ordinarys or Public Houses, like most others in this Country but the Inhabi- 
tants consist of Merchants, Ship Carpenters and other useful Artisans, with 
Sailors enough to manage the Navigation. With all these Conveniences, it 
lies under the two great disadvantages that most of the towns in Holland do, 
by having neither good Air nor good Water. The two Cardinal Virtues that 
make a Place Thrive, Industry and Frugality, are seen here in Perfection, and 
so long as they can banish Luxury and Idleness, the Town will remain in a 
happy and flourishing condition. 

The method of building Wharffs here is after the following Manner. 
They lay down long Pine Logs that reach from the Shore to the Edge of the 
Channel. These are bound fast together by Cross-Pieces nocht into them accord- 
ing to the Architecture of Log-Houses in North Carolina. A wharfl^ built thus 
will stand several Years in spight of the Worm, which bites here very much, 
but may soon be repaired in a place where so many Pines grow in the Neigh- 

Over against the Town is Powder Point, where Ships of any Burthen may 
lye close to, and the Men of War are us'd to Careen. 

Col. Byrd had difficulty in obtaining directions as to how to reach Cur- 
rituck, until he was fortunate enough to meet up with an inhabitant of 

** Dismal Swamp. 
*** Livestock. 


those parts who furnished him with a rough map. Whereupon the party 
"determined to march directly to Prescott Landing, upon North West River 
and proceed thence by Water to the Place where our Line was to begin." 
And so, to carry out this decision, wrote Byrd on Monday, 4 Marcli, 

... we crosst the River this Morning to Powder Point,* where we all took 
Horse and the Grandees of the Town with great Courtesy conducted us Ten 
Miles on our way, as far as the long Bridge** built over the Southern Branch 
of the River. The Parson of the Parish, Mr. Marston, a painful Apostle of 
tlie Society,*** made one in this Cerimonial Cavalcade. 

Thus the Byrd Commission departed down the road to Great Bridge and 
Northwest, and so on to Currituck Sound. We may be sure that Col. Boush 
and Col. Newton were at the forefront of this procession of "grandees" 
who thus sped the parting guests! 

In summary,^*'- it is evident that the people of Norfolk Town were 
living in an entirely different economy from that of the river plantations. 
The basic difference was to be found in the sandy soil of the coastal counties, 
which yielded a much poorer grade of tobacco, which had come to be the 
wealth of the inland areas. It is true the Norfolk and Princess Anne planters 
still cultivated some fields of the "weed" alongside their maize, beans, 
pumpkins and other food crops, but they had to look elsewhere for a source 
of income and economic independence. It was found near at hand in the 
virgin forests of these shores, the tali pines, the sturdy oaks, the durable 
junipers and cypresses which abounded in the swampy hinterlands. In a 
country which was increasing almost hourly in population, there was a 
tremendous demand for the material with which to build houses to live in, 
and ships to carry their commerce. And so the people of Norfolk found 
their economic salvation in the trade in pine tar, pitch and turpentine, oak 
barrel staves, planks and sills, juniper and cypress shingles. This gave rise 
to the growth of the prosperous merchant class which, as we have seen, was 
the backbone of Norfolk Town, those who would take the ship stores and 
building materials from the producers and give in return the European 
wares — both necessity and luxury — which the people wanted. 

"There are beginnings of towns at Williamsburg, Hampton and Norfolk, 
particularly at Norfolk-town at Elizabeth River, who carry on a small trade 
with the whole bay." So wrote the Reverend Francis Makemie, the Presbyterian 
dissenter in Accawmack, shortly after the year 1700. '"'^ But if Norfolk Town 
had depended on the trade of the bay, it would have died an economic death 
at its very beginning. For the ships from England in that day had no need 

* Berkley. 
** Great Bridge. 

*** A painstaking and diligent representative of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel 
in Foreign Parts. 


of deep water harbors, but could approach every bay and river plantation 
v/harf to barter manufactured goods from England, and pick up the hogs- 
heads of tobacco for the European market. Therefore, Norfolk found its 
source of supply of raw materials — and demand for overseas goods — in the 
area of which it was the natural port, southeast Virginia and northeast 
North Carolina. From this area it drew, not only the lumber and ship 
stores we have mentioned, but also quantities of beef, pork, hides, tallow, 
furs, and other products of the farms, swamps and woodlands. 

Moreover it was soon evident that Norfolk Town was nearer the West 
Indies than were the ports of England, nearer even than Boston, New York 
and Philadelphia. Hence the Norfolk merchants soon garnered the lion's 
share of the West India trade, and the town's warehouses were full of 
hitherto strange and unknown products, such as sugar, molasses, rum, 
coffee; even items from farther afield — spices, wines from Oporto (port), 
Jerez (sherry), Madeira and Canary — were introduced into the New World 
through the West Indies. 

As this seaborne trade increased, there was increased interest and ac- 
tivity in the ships which carried it, both in the rivers and creeks of the area 
and over the ocean to faraway places. As early as 1697"* Lewis Conner, one 
of the first Norfolk merchants, owned a ship and a brigantine.* In 1717, 
Matthew Godfrey was buying barrels of tar from one of his town neighbors, 
Owen Jones, who was also a carpenter. About the same time Godfrey owned 
the sloop America. In 1723, Robert Tucker had one brigantine, three sloops 
and three "flats;" his brother John, in 1736, had three sloops and one shallop. 
Also in 1736, Captain Nathaniel Tatem owned the ship Caesar and the sloop 
Indian Creek; he also owned cartwheels, chains, axes, whipsaws and wedges: 
the tools required for cutting and hauling of planks. About the same time the 
sloop Industry was built at Norfolk, and the ship Moseley (whose name 
suggests Col. Edward Moseley of Rolleston and Norfolk Town) was loading 
cargo at Norfolk for Great Britain. William Byrd was impressed by what 
he saw here: the brigantines and sloops, the wharves, the merchants, ship 
carpenters and sailors, the careening ground across the river. Byrd, being 
of the so-called landed gentry, keenly noted the differences between the 
people of this place and those with whom he associated. He realized, too, 
that the strangeness was not entirely one-sided, when he was stared at in 
church as a foreigner. He evidently respected them and their feelings and 
material possessions. He could call Mr. Sam Smith a plain man, but was at 
the same time impressed with his £20,000; he paid tribute to Mrs. Newton 

* Ship, a three-masted square-rigged vessel ; Bark, a three-masted vessel, square-rigged at the 
fore and main and schooner-rigged at the mizzenmast ; Barkentine, a bark with both main and 
mizzenmast schooner-rigged ; Brig, a two-masted square-rigged vessel with an additional fore-and- 
aft sail at the mainmast; Brigantine, a brig without a square mainsail. (Webster) 


and the other "true fine Ladies"; he regretted his servant's breach of 
hospitality; he appreciated the attentions shown him by the "grandees" of 
the town, and appreciated the minister's* efforts and activities. 

I can think of no better way to conclude this early picture of Norfolk 
Town than to quote the words of one to whom I am greatly indebted, Dr. 
Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker: 

The town — a busy seaport in an agricultural colony — was a thing apart from 
the rest of Virginia. Its people were Virginians, it is true. Yet they had in 
many ways more in common with Boston or Philadelphia than with the planters 
of the James and the York. Although they rivaled the landed aristocracy in 
wealth, built substantial houses fitted with handsome furniture and costly plate, 
surrounded themselves with slaves, adhered to the Anglican Church, and 
acquired a certain degree of breadth and culture, there were essential differ- 
ences. They were first of all practical, keen business men, lacking the taste for 
political life, the urge for study, and the philosophical view, which the planta- 
tion system fostered in their neighbors. Norfolk produced no Washington, no 
Jefferson, no Madison. ^''•'' 

Notes on Chapter XII 
N.B. See remark at beginning of Chapter I notes. 

1. See Chapter X. 

2. 2H472. 

3. Virginia Slate Land Office Records, Patent Books II and III, p.issim; Nugent, Cavaliers and 
Pioneers, p. 54. 

4. NED. 

5. Virginia StJte Land Office Records, Patent Book IV, passim; Lower Norfolk County Records, 
Book D (1656-1666). 

6. Ihid.. Order Book (1675-1686). 

7. Loc. cit. 

8. 2H508. 540. 561 ; Beverley, History of Virginia, p. 88. 

9. Lower Norfolk County Records. Book 4. p. 126. 

10. Ibid.. Book C, p. 46; 2N89. 

11. Lower Norfolk County Records, Order Book (1675-1686). 

12. Ihid., Books 4 through 9, passim. 

13. Ingle, "Virginia Institutions," p. 36. 

14. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book 4, p. 153. 

15. Norfolk County Records, Book 5, p. 35. 

16. Ihid., Book 6, p. 2. 

17. Ihid., Book 5, p. 118. 

18. Ihid.. p. 159. 

19. Lower Norfolk County Records, Book 4, pp. 135, 140, 169. 

20. Virginia State Lind Office Records, Patent Book 8, p. 69. 

21. 3H58-60. 

22. Norfolk County Records, Book 5 (1686-1695). 

23. Loc. cit. 

24. Loc. cit. 

* Parson Marsden had not yet become persona non grata. 


25. 3H112. 

26. Norfolk Count) Records, Books 5, 6 and 7, passim. 

27. Loc. cit. 

28. Lof. cit. 

29. Nugent, op. r;/., p. 499. 

30. Lower Norfolk Comity Records, Book 7, p. 21. 

31. Historic Church Silier, note on The Borough Church, Norfolk (pages unnumbered). 

32. E. L. Goodwin, Colonial Church, p. 303; Meade, Old Churches . . . in ]'irginia, I, 306. 

33. 3H186. 432. 

34. Ibid., p. 219. 

35. Ibid., pp. 392, 470-1. 

36. Ibid., pp. 404-19. 

37. Loc. cit. (marginal note) ; Ingle, op. cit., p. 100. 

38. Norfolk County Records, Books 7, 8, 9, 10, OAW,* F, and G, passim. 

39. Ibid., Books 7, 8 and 9, passim. 

40. /i/<^., Books 8, 9, 10, OAW,* F, G, and 11, passim. 

41. Ibid., Books 7, 8, 9 10 O&W** and H passim. 

60. The story of the Norfolk Lodge is difficult to pin-point as to sources: much of this informa- 
tion was furnished by Grand Secretaries of the Grand Lodges of Virginia and England ; see 
also articles in the Norfolk Virgiiiiaii-P/lot (26 June 1940, 30 October 1949) and the 
Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch (21 July 1938), which contain many errors of interpretation. 

42. Ibid., Book 5, p. 197; Book 9, pp. 355, 380, 431. 

43. Ibid., Book OAW,* p. 138. 

44. Ibid., Book 5, p. 195; Book 9, p. 521; Book 10, pp. 79-80; Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 13 
April 1950; R. Goodwin, Williamsburg, p. 327. 

45. Wertenbaker, Norfolk, pp. 19-20. 

46. Loc. cit. 

Al. E. L. Goodwin, Colonial Church, p. 284 ; Lotrer Norfolk County Records, Book 8, p. 50 

48. E. L. Goodwin, op. cit., p. 290. 

49- Ibid., p. 268. 

50. Historic Church Siher, note on the Borough Church, Norfolk (pages unnumbered). 

51. E. L. Goodwin, op. cit., p. 271. 

52. Ibid., p. 291; 19W(2)462, 465, 467. 

53. E. L. Goodwin, op. cit., p. 302; 19W(2)467.